A young woman blames her religious upbringing for a friend's suicide and sets out to discover who she is beyond the strict rules of doctrine. Reinventing herself in a new town, she struggles with breaking the taboos of her mother's faith and navigating the lines between friend and lover, child and adult. As she learns new details about events back home, she is forced to reevaluate the childhood she thought she knew.
Praise for Companion Plants
"Kathryn Roberts writes about the tumultuous process of finding one's place in the world with rare poise and a gutsy imagination. Companion Plants seethes, it provokes, it demands our attention. It's an audacious debut by a writer who more than delivers on her promises." --Ryan Boudinot, author of Blueprints of the Afterlife
"Companion Plants is one of the most intimate novels I've read, and a page-turner in the literal sense; the book's quietly tragic momentum makes it impossible to set aside, and left me hoping as I read on that no irrevocable harm would come to any of the characters, all of whom, from the first page, are as familiar as they are intriguing to anyone who has ever struggled to recapture a sense of home, family, love, or purpose, which is to say: anyone at all. And when the book concludes, the reader feels abandoned, which is the mark of a great story. Roberts writes with grace and verity throughout, but compassion above all else, recalling the work of Richard Ford in Wildlife and Forrest Gander in As a Friend, among others. Companion Plants is universal in its specificity, a beautifully melancholic story of young people living beyond the twilight of the American dream; a wonderful novel, and a stunning debut." --Joshua Amses, author of The Moment Before an Injury and Raven or Crow
"In a time when the fictional grief novel is typically submerged in either young adult puppy love tales or overly dramatized romantic treatises, Roberts’ novel, Companion Plants, comes as a refreshing step back into an old-fashioned story that does not sugarcoat or eroticize the realities of loss. The book expertly handles the themes of loss and the complexities of reconciling grief. Full recovery is often not the option in the real world, a fact Roberts also captures in her storyworld. She is unafraid to explore the ambiguities that follow families (both biological and socially constructed) and they muddle through the aftermath of a loss by suicide. Everyone is touched, not just the victim. Everyone experiences the loss in their own way." --Jonita Davis, Blotterature; read the full review here.