“This is a book about ownership. It begins with an essay about being given a man’s furniture while he’s on trial for murder and follows this study of the material with essays that consider corporeal, familial, and intellectual ownership as well. What does it mean to believe that a hand, or a child, or a country, or a story belongs to you? What happens if you realize you’re wrong? Mining her own life and those of others, Sarah Viren considers the contingencies of ownership alongside the realities of loss in this debut essay collection.”



“With wonderfully precise and evocative prose, Sarah Viren takes us deeply into her search for her very self – from the haunted, swampy heat of Florida to the arid West Texas plains, from a simmering volcano in Guatemala to an icy country road in the matted cornfields of Iowa, these superb essays lay bare our universal pining for a place to call one’s own, for a life-long lover with whom to share it, and for all the disparate shards of our far flung lives to come together, at least fleetingly, as a return to one’s true home. Mine is not only moving, it is instructive and nourishing in a way that only art can deliver. This book is a gem.”     –Andre Dubus III


“Sarah Viren is a writer of extraordinary wisdom and grace. Viren approaches her subjects–from beheadings to motherhood to the acquisition of Spanish mediated through a Spanish-language-Dr.-Phil-clone–with unsparing anti-sentimentality. She’s allergic to comforting illusions, attracted to uncomfortable truths. There’s a steadfast intelligence at work, a rationality almost scary in its unwillingness to bend toward bromide. And so I am always taken aback, in the end, when her essays–cunningly, imperceptibly–gather within themselves such stunning emotional power.”     -Kerry Howley, author of Thrown


“In so many of the moments detailed in Sarah Viren’s insightful and inspiring essays, she walks across an ordinary day and stumbles into an extraordinary one. A dead (and disappearing) opossum, a bloody paper dove, the cast-off furniture of an accused murderer, and so on—all stuff that this writer suddenly somehow possesses or is possessed by. Ultimately a book about belonging, this nimble, beautiful collection helps us better understand ‘what we call ours but is never really ours to begin with.'”     – Ryan Van Meter, author of If You Knew Then What I Know Now


“These essays are full of humanity, a reminder to try and understand others, and a call to recognize our impermanence and honor our connections with each other.” – Brevity magazine


“Viren’s ability to explore feeling so deeply without evincing upset is one of the things that makes the collection so unique. There is no polemic, even against an interview subject who professes the virtues of gay conversion therapy, or against the state of Texas where her Iowa marriage to her wife was “outright banned.” There is no panic in the prose, no recoil, and yet the reader instinctively feels both.” – the Iowa Review