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One Good Mama Bone is the winner of the

2017 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction

“First-time novelist McClain draws on her family’s history in the rural South to create a cast of deeply relatable characters, both human and animal, who readers will find themselves rooting for until the very last page.” Booklist, starred review


“McClain’s first novel resists predictability and instead weaves together questions about poverty, class, violence, and religion. . . . A thought-provoking story about families and the animals who sustain them.”  Kirkus Reviews


“At the border of nature writing, Bren McClain, sovereignly distilling memories of her own childhood, invents or renews what could be called a farm writing, conveying the extremely precise feeling of a rural America, a South Carolina of the 1950s that William Faulkner or Carson McCullers haunted, but perhaps even more John Steinbeck, with his crudity in terms of poverty and social inequality, that of the Grapes of Wrath, and his sarcastic humor the nicely absurd, that of Rue de la Sardine.”  Charybde 27: le Blog


“Once in a while, a novel comes along that is just extraordinary, in the best sense of that word. One Good Mama Bone is such a book. In little more than 250 pages, McClain brings to life in spare but lyrical prose an unforgettable cast of characters struggling with poverty, family, and reputation against the backdrop of early 1950s rural South Carolina.”  Five Directions Press


One Good Mama Bone is a true American story because it is a hybrid of genres: The plot is Southern Gothic, the twists and turns are fairytale, the prose and characters are folkloric….The homely, comfortable stitching of the prose evokes rural, hardscrabble lives, shot through with lovely flourishes of clean-lined poetry…”  The Washington Independent Review of Books


“This is an “old-fashioned” story of redemption through innocence—through valuing innocence in animals and humans, invoking innocence in oneself and others, and loving others for their innocence.”  Project Muse


“It’s a novel with a heart-breaking beginning whose conclusion is morally and emotionally satisfying…”  Southern Literary Review


“In spite of being an animal lover all my life and feeling the centrality of that love in how I see the larger world, I have never directly addressed that theme in my writing. I no longer have to. Bren McClain’s brilliant and ravishingly moving One Good Mama Bone speaks eloquently for all of us who find our deepest humanity intimately connected with all the sentient creatures around us. Humane and universal, One Good Mama Bone is an instant classic.” Pulitzer Prize winning author Robert Olen Butler


One Good Mama Bone is everything that Bren [McClain] is―smart, confident, unflinchingly honest, witty, wise, and possessing a reassuring wisdom and kindness that carries the reader from the story’s heartbreaking beginnings to a morally and emotionally satisfying conclusion. McClain’s debut novel is a tour de force! . . . This is a novel that just might break your heart, and it might well heal it too, but with both acts Bren McClain will remind you of why each of us is entrusted with a heart in the first place.”  New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe, from the Foreword


“Emotional bonds between humans and animals have long been written about, but never has the bond between a woman and a mother cow been placed front and center. It’s about time. The world is ready for this true portrait of a mother cow’s compassion and the lessons she has to teach us all. This is an important story whose time has come.”  Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary


“Bren McClain writes of elemental things with grace, wisdom, and power. One Good Mama Bone speaks with a quiet authority that comes through on every page.”  Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction


“Engrossing….pitch-perfect writing….”  The Independent Mail


“I LOVED THIS BOOK. I haven’t been so immersed in a place and time since…I dunno, Serena by Ron Rash. Also, thank you for the ending. Bittersweet to be sure, but sweet nonetheless. I can’t wait to get this in the store and hand-sell it. It was heartbreaking and beautiful and so very real.”  Angel Schroeder, Sunrise Books


“Unexpected characters populate this compelling tale about Mama Red, a mama cow, whose maternal instincts toward her own calf influence  a human, Sarah Creamer, to become a better mother to her son. Poignant and enjoyable!”  Steph Crowe,  Page & Palette


“With One Good Mama Bone, McClain captures the rich heritage of her Southern roots. Drawing deeply from the well of her childhood memories she sculpts this story of love, loss, and unexpected redemption with the chiseled precision of a true artist. Mama Bone is a living Epistle of how deeply a mother loves and the sacrifices she will be forced to make to save her child. The perfect novel companion for a chilly day, to read by a cozy fire.”  River Jordan, Parnassus Books


“…a story of hardship, hope, love, loss and the bone of motherhood that reaches deep into the divine.” Dew on the


“This novel is beautifully written and so descriptive of life in the rural South….by the end, the reader realizes that it’s not the material things that really matter in life, it’s love and family that are the most important things in life.”  Girl Who Reads


“Setting her novel in poverty-deep rural South Carolina in the early 1950s, author Bren McClain brings forth a story that aches and pulses, starting with Sarah, who becomes the mama she never had and is wrapped with worry about not having a map for raising a boy who’s not hers. This grasping hopefulness and the things she does for Emerson Bridge are so appealing that Sarah might’ve made a good solitary subject for a novel. Happily, McClain gives us more, in the form of a whole cast of wonderful characters.”  Galveston News


“In her novel, One Good Mama Bone, Bren McClain calls bullshit on toxic masculinity’s guise of eternal power and control.”  The New Southern Fugitives

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