Flood is the novel Mark Twain would have written
if Becky Thatcher had gone home for her high school reunion and found Tom Sawyer.
Flood is available now in hard back and ebook format:
Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Books-A-Million / IndieBound.Org / Google Play / Left Bank Books / Politics & Prose
Paperback available: May 8, 2018
Winner of the Literary Fiction Category for the 2017 Best Book Award
"Where We Write: Hannibal, Missouri" Poets & Writers
A sparkling debut set in Mark Twain's boyhood town, Flood is a story of what it means to be lost . . . and found.
Laura Brooks fled her hometown of Hannibal, Missouri, ten years ago after a historic flood and personal heartbreak. Now she's returned unannounced, and her family and friends don't know what to make of it. She says she's just home for a brief visit and her high-school reunion, but she's carrying too much luggage for that: literal and metaphorical. Soon Laura is embroiled in small-town affairs--the contentious divorce of her rowdy best friend Rose; the campaign of her twelve-year-old godson, Bobby, to become the town's official Tom Sawyer; and the renewed interest of the man Laura once thought she'd marry, Sammy McGuire.
Leaving town when she was eighteen had been Laura's only option. She feared a stifling existence in a town ruled by its past, its mythological devotion to Mark Twain, and the economic and racial divide that runs as deep as the Mississippi River. She can't forget that fateful Fourth of July when the levees broke or the decisions that still haunt her. Now as the Mississippi rises again, a deep wound threatens to reopen, and Laura must decide if running away once more might be the best way to save herself.
Publishers Weekly: Filled with pithy dialogue and cultural references, Young’s writing ties Laura’s journey of self-discovery squarely to Hannibal and its famous young troublemakers. As Laura reckons with her past, Young reckons with Twain’s influence on the region. This debut is a wonderful story of home, hope, and the ties that bind us to family.
Kirkus: Hannibal, Missouri, on the Mississippi River flood plain—not only the setting for Mark Twain’s most celebrated novels, but also the hometown of Laura Brooks, who grew up to flee her trailer home for life as a nurse in Florida. But now Laura is back, and the river is rising.
Library Journal: Young will leave readers thinking about their own flood of memories in this debut novel.
Washington Independent Review of Books: The Twain thread of the story is unique. The author has attempted an interesting feat, creating characters reminiscent of Twain’s work, and even people drawn from Samuel Clemens’ real life. One technique Young uses with great success is a series of chapters that purport to be excerpts from a book written by one of Laura’s teachers, Ms. Bechtold. These sections weave in and out of Laura’s story, providing historical information about Clemens and Hannibal, and dropping clues for astute readers.
Mark Twain Forum: T. S. Eliot said of Mark Twain's writing of Huckleberry Finn that the book would give readers what each reader was capable of taking from it, and that Twain may have written a much better book than he realized. Eliot was not excusing Mark Twain: What Eliot wrote is what genuine wisdom looks like on the printed page. The same could be said of Melissa Young and Flood . . . Flood reflects America's rural-urban divide, racism, empty-headed faith, willful ignorance, wheel-spinning, and marveling at distracting fireworks instead of the vast universe looming behind them. It's more than a hillbilly elegy.
Praise & Endorsements:
Scholes Young's pursuit [in FLOOD] is classic and eternal: 'the human heart in conflict with itself,' in William Faulkner's mighty phrase. In Scholes Young's hands, the conflict is waged with fierce consummate compassion and, finally, apocalyptic and enigmatic grace.
—Ron Powers, Pulitzer Prize winning author, White Town Drowsing: Journeys to Hannibal, Dangerous Water: A Biography of the Boy Who Became Mark Twain, and Mark Twain: A Life
Melissa Scholes Young is immensely talented. Her eye is clear and her powers are on high. I read Flood with admiration and growing excitement. I so strongly recommend her. Read her, now!
-Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Into the Beautiful North, Devil's Highway, Hummingbird's Daughter, Water Museum
Flood is a story of home and place, but it's also a story of class and difference, and at the same time it's a story of love: familial love, the love between friends, romantic love, and even the love of literature itself. That Melissa Scholes Young is able to so deftly weave these together—in evocative sentences and heartbreaking scenes—is testament to her remarkable ability.
-Rumaan Alam, author of Rich and Pretty, That Kind of Mother
Melissa Scholes Young's first novel delivers two unforgettable characters: the exhausted but not down-for-the-count Laura Brooks running back to her hometown of Hannibal, Missouri and the Mississippi River - both looking to climb out of their confines and willing to become displaced in the process. Fans of Mark Twain's beloved work will recognize Flood's conflicted characters and endearing contradictions. Like Twain, Laura Brooks tells the truth, mainly...
-Dr. Cindy Lovell, Executive Director, Mark Twain House & Museum
Melissa Scholes Young knows how to tell a story, one that captivates and charms. She also knows the land and the heart’s attachment to it. Flood is a novel about coming home, which in this case, is Hannibal, Missouri, on the banks of the Mississippi River, the land of Mark Twain and his unforgettable characters, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. This novel’s take on the question of whether to ‘light out for the territory’ is a wonderful read, one that will make you think about what it means to call a place home.
-Lee Martin, Pulitzer Prize Finalist for The Bright Forever, author of Quakertown, River of Heaven, Break the Skin, Late One Night
Flood is a beautifully written novel that explores perennial questions of identity and belonging. I say perennial not because the novel beats a well-worth path, but because these questions are existential and urgent. Scholes Young is a thoughtful realist who creates a rich fictive dream without sacrificing character and voice. In Flood, she avoids the pitfalls of rural caricature by refusing the hyperbolic dialect and false cadences common in contemporary fiction that privileges place. Her characters come to life through patient accumulation not grotesque gesture. The prose is sharp, full of momentum, and yet restrained. There is no false nostalgia here, only complexity.
-Stephanie Grant, author of Passion of Alice and Map of Ireland
Flood is character-driven fiction that appeals on both a gut and an emotional level. Melissa Scholes Young tackles difficult situations and never veers into cliché. Her endings are sublime. And her characters are as believable as anybody’s friends and neighbors. I marvel at her poetic language, her accumulation of details, and her uncanny ability to key on exactly what it is that makes a story. She has admirable range and creates real people with depth, plus plot points that stick in the heart and mind.
-Richard Peabody, author of The Richard Peabody Reader, editor & publisher of Gargoyle Magazine &Paycock Press
Melissa Scholes Young's debut novel Flood bubbles up from the home ground of Mark Twain. Those storied banks of the Mississippi crest anew with all the humor and hunger of Hannibal's current haves and have-nots—and this time it's women in the leading roles, YAY! The self-exiled Laura Brooks is running retrograde, returning home to tightrope walk a personal levee of luggage and love among family and friends. Down here the water's thick as the blood, and Flood's pages will swell and rush over you with their deep yearnings. This is fertile ground indeed, and Scholes Young’s brimming with Twain's loam and legacy.
-Marc Nieson, author of Schoolhouse: Lessons on Love and Landscape
A dazzling work as wide and turbulent as the Mississippi itself.
-Aline Ohanesian, author of Orhan's Inheritance
Melissa Scholes Young’s charming, energetic debut brings to life a town steeped in and hindered by its own rich history.
-Susan Coll, author of The Stager
Melissa Scholes Young captures a time, place and town with authenticity, humor, and an obvious love for her characters. A great debut by a wonderful new voice!
- Rebecca Barry, bestselling author of Later, at the Bar