published by BCC Press, a nonprofit publisher

Four Mormon sisters wake to the news of their mother Sylvia’s unexpected death. Over the next seven days they gather at the family cabin and find themselves circling a visceral hole left in the family landscape. Time troubled by loss collapses past and present. Mary, revisits her role as protector, triggering a painful memory she’s carried since childhood. Roxcy finds herself at a personal edge, unsure how to keep private the fissures that threaten to fracture her perfect Mormon world. Eve’s long struggle with infertility reached a fever and broke without her sisters ever knowing. And Anna’s shattered life plan, especially her recent, blatant un-Mormonness, pushes already tenuous emotions to the brink.

In the tradition of the finest literary fiction of the American West, Twila Newey weaves together the frailty and warmth of family ties with the mountain landscape’s casual cruelty and transcendent beauty. Four bereaved sisters face the limits and comforts of their faith in one another and in their religious community, and in the process illuminate the frank humor, dangers, and graces of Utah women’s lives in ways that will delight and haunt readers long afterward.
Sylvia is a masterpiece. It is warm and real and breathes with life in its complexity and beauty. I have rarely encountered an author with such an ability to paint the human heart as well as she paints the landscape of the Wasatch Mountains near Provo, Utah. Newey shows us the intertangled roots of families that grow like aspens in their connectedness and their majesty on the mountainside. Her writing is full of possibility, richness and grace that embraces the reader and gives us all a sense of hope amidst the messiness of our lives
Twila Newey’s writing is as delicate as dreaming and as enduring as myth. In Sylvia, she reveals a family’s shifting landscape as its sisters, daughters, and mothers strive to see and accept one another through the lens of grief. With an ear for language and a subtle understanding of the grace and plenitude of loss, Newey is a writer to watch.
I read a book primarily for its language, and the poetry in Twila’s novel does not disappoint. What’s more though, she weaves her deliberate language, pulling one weft of story on top of another, threading back and forth through time in ways that are heartbreaking, hope offering, and real. In the end, you hold a colorful orb of story that is crafted with deliberate attention to the female story, told through the lens of a poet.