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Cover painting by John Leary

Other Fomite Books 

by Jan English Leary

Skating on the Vertical

Town and Gown

Andrea Barton is single but wants a child. When an infant is abandoned at a church on the north side of Chicago, Andrea first becomes a foster mother and then adopts her. Andrea believes that love and her experience as a social worker will see her through the challenges of raising an African-American child in a white world. During Pearl’s childhood, Andrea is able to protect her daughter from many of society’s blows. But when teenaged Pearl starts to seek her own identity, their relationship is threatened. Both mother and daughter face situations that force them to confront the possibilities and limits of love.

About the Author

Jan English Leary grew up in the Midwest and Central New York State. During her junior year at Smith College, she studied in Paris, an experience which fostered the love of travel that runs through her fiction. She received an M.A. in French Literature at Brown. While teaching French and raising her children, she completed an MFA in Creative Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts. For the remainder of her career she taught fiction writing at Francis W. Parker School in Chicago and at Northwestern University. Her short fiction has appeared in Pleiades, The Literary Review, The Minnesota Review, Carve Magazine, anLong Story, Short Literary Journal and other publications. She has received three Illinois Arts Council Awards. She lives in Chicago with her husband, John, an artist and former teacher. Thicker Than Blood is her first novel.


Review by Jaclyn Bauer at Centered on Books


“Jan English Leary's novel masterfully unfolds the stories of unforgettable characters at the moments when they are making and losing and returning to and abandoning all their first assumptions of home and of family.”

—Kevin McIlvoy, author of 57 Octaves Below Middle C, The Complete History of New Mexico, Hyssop, Little Peg, The Fifth Station

“With great empathy and insight, Leary portrays a mother-daughter relationship that is both unconventional and universal.”

—Katherine Shonk, author of The Red Passport and Happy Now?

Jan English Leary, a first rate storyteller, examines the intersection between idealism, the harsh reality of post-racist America, the challenges of adoption and the brutality of family life in general.

—Goldie Goldbloom, author of The Paperbark Shoe

Written with uncommon grace and profound insight, Thicker Than Blood is a brave and poignant novel.

—Lynn Sloan, author of Principles of Navigation