Bestselling author Wade Rouse finds solace with his dying father through their shared love of baseball in this poignant, illuminating memoir of family and forgiveness.
Before his success in public relations, his loving marriage and his storied writing career, Wade Rouse was simply Ted Rouse’s son. A queer kid in a conservative Ozarks community, Wade struggled at a young age to garner his father’s approval and find his voice. For his part, Ted was a hard-lined engineer, offering little emotional support or encouragement. But Wade and Ted had one thing in common: an undying love of the St. Louis Cardinals.
How come the only thing my family tree ever grows is nuts?
Wade Rouse attempts to answer that question in his blisteringly funny new memoir by looking at the yearly celebrations that unite us all and bring out the very best and worst in our nearest and dearest.
Family is truly the only gift that keeps on giving—namely, the gifts of dysfunction and eccentricity—and Wade Rouse’s family has been especially charitable: His chatty yet loving mother dresses her son up in highly inappropriate costumes for Halloween in the rural Ozarks; his unconventional engineer of a father buries his children’s Easter eggs; his marvelously Martha Stewart–esque partner believes Barbie is his baby; his garage-sale obsessed set of in-laws are convinced they can earn more than Warren Buffett by selling their broken lamps and Nehru jackets; his mutt Marge speaks her own language; and his oddball collection of relatives includes a tipsy Santa Claus with an affinity for showing off his jingle balls. In the end, though, the Rouse House gifted Wade with love, laughter, understanding, superb comic timing, and a humbling appreciation for humiliation.
In this rollicking and hilarious memoir, Wade and his partner, Gary, leave culture, cable, and consumerism behind and strike out for rural Michigan—a place with fewer people than in their former spinning class. There, Wade discovers the simple life isn’t so simple. Battling blizzards, bloodthirsty critters, and nosy neighbors equipped with night-vision goggles, Wade and his spirit, sanity, relationship, and Kenneth Cole pointy-toed boots are sorely tested with humorous and humiliating frequency. And though he never does learn where his well water actually comes from or how to survive without Kashi cereal, he does discover some things in the woods outside his knotty-pine cottage in Saugatuck, Michigan, that he always dreamed of but never imagined he’d find—happiness and a home.
When Wade Rouse—a rural, public school graduate who grew up more Hee Haw than Dynasty—was hired as the director of publicity at the prestigious Tate Academy, he quickly discovered his real job was to make a few of the very pretty, very rich, very mean mommies of the elite students happy. Enter former Tate beauty queen and sports star Katherine Isabelle Ludington—Kitsy to her friends—who went to an Ivy, married an Ivy, and made a lot of money. Now, she is Wade’s VIP volunteer and a perfectly coiffed nightmare. In between designing Louis Vuitton–inspired reunion invitations, dressing as Ronald Reagan for Halloween, and surviving surprise Botox parties, Wade tries to tame Kitsy and her pink Lilly Pulitzer–clad posse while reclaiming his self-esteem. Following a year in the life of the super rich and super spoiled, Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler is hilarious, heartbreaking, and deliciously catty.
Growing up in the Missouri Ozarks in the 1960s and ’70s, Wade Rouse was always a bit of an outsider. While some of his roughneck peers wore Wrangler jeans and had stylish crew cuts, Wade feathered his golden hair and sported a handmade leatherwork belt bearing his unfortunate childhood nickname, Wee-Pooh. Taunted by his classmates, Wade finds comfort in his offbeat but lovable family, but when a tragic motorcycle accident takes his brother’s life, Wade buries his sexuality along with his brother, vowing to be the son he believes his family wants. America’s Boy is Wade Rouse’s tale of self-denial and self-discovery, and a tender tribute to the eccentric family that carried him through it all. Wade’s battle with himself—and the long road back to self-acceptance—forms the heart of America’s Boy, an arresting and utterly moving memoir about a boy learning to live (and love) in his own skin. Told with humor, courage, and boundless joy, America’s Boy is a love letter to a singular time in America’s heartland, to family, and to the growing pains that accompany self-discovery.
Pen Name: Viola Shipman
With echoes of classic Hollywood love stories like Serendipity and An Affair to Remember, Viola Shipman’s latest winter charmer following the USA TODAY bestseller The Secret of Snow is sure to tug on heartstrings and delight readers who love books about books, missed connections and the magic of Christmas.
Despite losing her parents in a tragic accident just before her fourteenth Christmas, Susan Norcross has had it better than most, with loving grandparents to raise her and a gang of quirky, devoted friends to support her. Now a successful bookstore owner in a tight-knit Michigan lakeside community, Susan is facing down forty—the same age as her mother when she died—and she can’t help but see everything she hasn’t achieved, including finding a love match of her own. To add to the pressure, everyone in her small town believes it’s Susan’s destiny to meet and marry a man dressed as Santa, just like her mother and grandmother before her. So it seems cosmically unfair that the man she makes an instant connection with at an annual Santa Run is lost in the crowd before she can get his name.
What follows is Susan and her friends’ hilarious and heartwarming search for the mystery Santa—covering twelve months of social media snafus, authors behaving badly and dating fails—as well as a poignant look at family, friendship and what defines a well-lived and well-loved life.
Reminiscent of the complex, uplifting family stories by Nancy Thayer, Sunny Hostin and Mary Alice Monroe, Viola Shipman’s poignant new novel explores the relationship between a curious woman and her secretive mother, taking readers from their hardscrabble life in the Ozarks to her search for answers along the sparkling shores of Lake Michigan.
Devastated by the sudden death of her mother—a quiet, loving and intensely private Southern seamstress called Miss Mabel, who overflowed with pearls of Ozarks wisdom but never spoke of her own family—Sutton Douglas makes the impulsive decision to pack up and head north to the Michigan resort town where she believes she’ll find answers to the lifelong questions she’s had about not only her mother’s past but also her own place in the world.
Recalling Miss Mabel’s sewing notions that were her childhood toys, Sutton buys a collection of buttons at an estate sale from Bonnie Lyons, the imposing matriarch of the lakeside community. Propelled by a handful of trinkets left behind by her mother and glimpses into the history of the magical lakeshore town, Sutton becomes tantalized by the possibility that Bonnie is the grandmother she never knew. But is she? As Sutton cautiously befriends Bonnie and is taken into her confidence, she begins to uncover the secrets about her family that Miss Mabel so carefully hid, and about the role that Sutton herself unwittingly played in it all.
Sonny Dunes, a SoCal meteorologist who knows only sunshine and seventy-two-degree days, is being replaced by an AI meteorologist, which the youthful station manager reasons “will never age, gain weight or renegotiate its contract.” The only station willing to give the fifty-year-old another shot is one in a famously nontropical place—her northern Michigan hometown.
Unearthing her carefully laid California roots, Sonny returns home and reacclimates to the painfully long, dark winters dominated by a Michigan phenomenon known as lake-effect snow. But beyond the complete physical shock to her system, she’s also forced to confront her past: her new boss, a former journalism classmate and mortal frenemy; more keenly, the death of a younger sister who loved the snow; and the mother who caused Sonny to leave.
To distract herself from the unwelcome memories, Sonny decides to throw herself headfirst into all things winter to woo viewers and reclaim her success. From sledding and ice fishing to skiing and winter festivals, the merrymaking culminates with the town’s famed Winter Ice Sculpture Contest. Running the events is a widowed father and chamber of commerce director, whose genuine love of Michigan, winter and Sonny just might thaw her heart and restart her life in a way she never could have predicted.
Elizabeth, Veronica, Rachel and Emily met at Camp Birchwood as girls in 1985, where over four summers they were the Clover Girls—inseparable for those magical few weeks of freedom—until the last summer that pulled them apart. Now approaching middle age, the women are facing challenges they never imagined as teens, struggles with their marriages, their children, their careers, and wondering who it is they see when they look in the mirror.
Then Liz, V and Rachel each receive a letter from Emily with devastating news. She implores the girls who were once her best friends to reunite at Camp Birchwood one last time, to spend a week together revisiting the dreams they’d put aside and repair the relationships they’d allowed to sour. But the women are not the same idealistic, confident girls who once ruled Camp Birchwood, and perhaps some friendships aren’t meant to last forever…
Iris Maynard lost her husband in World War II, her daughter to loneliness and, finally, her reason to live. Walled off from the world for decades behind a towering fence surrounding her home and gardens, Iris has built a new family…of flowers. Iris propagates her own daylilies and roses while tending to an heirloom garden filled with starts—and memories of her own mother, grandmother, husband and daughter.
When Abby Peterson moves to Grand Haven, Michigan, with her family—a husband traumatized during his service in the Iraq War and a young daughter searching for stability—they find themselves next door to Iris, and are slowly drawn into their reclusive neighbor’s life where, united by loss and a love of flowers, Iris and Abby slowly unearth their secrets.
Adie Lou Kruger’s ex never understood her affection for what her parents called their Cozy Cottage, the charming, ramshackle summer home—complete with its own set of rules for relaxing—that she’s inherited on Lake Michigan. But despite the fact she’s facing a broken marriage and empty nest, and middle age is looming in the distance, memories of happy childhoods on the beach give her reason for hope. She’s determined not to let her husband’s affair with a grad student reduce her to a cliché, or to waste one more minute in a career she doesn’t love, so it becomes clear what Adie Lou must do: rebuild her life and restore her cottage shingle by shingle, on her terms.
“Filled with cherished memories and treasured recipes, The Recipe Box is a touching tribute to the women and food that unite us and connect our past to the present.” ―Richard Paul Evans, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Growing up in northern Michigan, Samantha “Sam” Mullins felt trapped on her family’s orchard and pie shop, so she left with dreams of making her own mark in the world. But life as an overworked, undervalued sous chef at a reality star’s New York bakery is not what Sam dreamed.
“Saugatuck, MI, springs to life in this nostalgic, gentle story of lifelong love along with the emotional support and care that families and friends can provide.” ―Library Journal
Ever since she was diagnosed with ALS, fiercely independent Mattie doesn’t feel like herself. She can’t navigate her beloved home, she can’t go for a boat ride, and she can barely even feed herself. Her devoted husband, Don, doesn’t want to imagine life without his wife of nearly fifty years, but Mattie isn’t likely to make it past their anniversary.
Through an heirloom charm bracelet three women will rediscover the importance of family and a passion for living as each charm changes their lives.
For every birthday Lolly’s mother gave her a charm with the advice that there is nothing more important than keeping family memories alive and Lolly’s charm bracelet would be a constant reminder of that love.
Now seventy and starting to forget things, Lolly knows time is running out to reconnect with a daughter and granddaughter whose lives have become too busy for Lolly or her family stories.
Pen Name: Viola Shipman
Just in time for the holidays, a beautiful story about letting go of grief and discovering the healing power of love, from bestselling author Viola Shipman
Neve Ford, once the queen of Christmas, no longer loves the holidays. While she once reveled in the magic of the first snow of the season and her collection of heirloom decorations, they now serve as reminders of the husband she lost too soon. With so many painful memories haunting her small Michigan hometown, Neve moved away and never looked back.
Now working in Chicago, and a social media star thanks to her spectacular Christmas windows, Neve’s sole focus is creating crowd-drawing displays—and ignoring the pleading letters her grandmother continues to send from home. But then her job unexpectedly takes her back to Michigan to curate displays for a Christmas festival. An expert at avoiding her past, Neve plans to slip in and get gone…until word of her return leaks out. The walls Neve built around her heart may be strong, but with some unexpected help from the community, Neve will learn that she can’t outrun family bonds—or the promise of hope that only Christmas can give.
I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship: Hilarious, Heartwarming Tales About Man’s Best Friend from America’s Favorite Humorists
A hilarious collection of bark-out-loud essays about living with and loving man’s best friend from some of today’s hottest writers and comics, including Jen Lancaster, Laurie Notaro, Jane Green, and featuring a Foreword by Chelsea Handler’s dog, Chunk. Editor Wade Rouse is donating a portion of the royalties he earns from sales of this book to The Humane Society of the United States, which is officially backing the project.