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Exit Wounds

Born to shanty Irish on one side and Park Avenue privilege on the other, Laura navigates a turbulent childhood filled with the alcohol-fueled abuse of her volatile father and her mother’s excessive drinking. As the middle child of three girls, she assigns herself the role of her mother’s protector, who dies when Laura is thirteen, leaving her heartbroken and adrift.

Insecure, anxious, and fearful, she tries drugs, random sex, and a sequence of lovers. Along the way she becomes a successful painter and has a bad first marriage. Nothing however seems to assuage her emptiness and her sense of loss. Eventually, she marries a caring man and has a loving daughter. It is only at the end of her life and by way of an unusual and unexpected turn of events that she is finally able to make peace with herself, to let go of the feeling that she never really grieved, and said goodbye to her beloved mother, and to appreciate that though we work at love and acceptance, sometimes the most wonderful experiences in our lives come in unanticipated and unsought ways.

Annie O’Neill Stein has an engaging voice— quirky, funny, full of original observations and expressions, as she adroitly explores the mysteries of the human heart.


Alice McDermottAmerican Book Award and U.S. National Book Award winner

A fiercely honest novel about the rough strife that constitutes a woman’s life as daughter, lover, artist, wife and mother.   Annie O’Neill Stein depicts with wry wisdom and an unfailingly clear eye how early trauma and grief can vie with memories of joy and love both to shape the future and to create a singular soul.  Exit Wounds is a brief novel full of life.

Moritz Borman
Producer Snowden, Terminator Salvation, Basic, Savages

Because I tend to read fiction cinematically, I saw each chapter of Exit Wounds as fully realized scenes in a movie. It isn’t a happy book and it’s not a sad book. It’s a brave, raw story of redemption infused with clever and witty black Irish humor.

Tom Lutz
Distinguished Professor and Chair of Creative Writing, UC Riverside/Founding Editor in Chief and Publisher of the Los Angeles Review of Books

It manages to be harrowing and hopeful in equal measure. The scenes of a childhood defined by a brutal drunk beating a young girl's dying mother are as scarifying as any coming of age novel I’ve read, and the
scenes of a life lived in defiance of the script she was handed is no less than thrilling

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