Holley author launches second book today
Melissa Ostrom’s book, Unleaving, highlights courage and resilience of 19-year-old sexual assault victim
HOLLEY – An author from Holley has her second novel out today. There will be a book launch celebration at Lift Bridge Book Shop from 2 to 4 p.m. at 45 Main St., Brockport.
Melissa Ostrom last year debuted with her novel, The Beloved Wild, which focused on pioneers who settled in Western New York. That book was set in Orleans County.
Ostrom’s new book also takes place partly in Orleans County, although the county isn’t specifically named. Instead, the main character Maggie comes to stay at her Aunt Wren’s cottage along Lake Ontario, in a small town between Rochester and Buffalo.
The book includes some well-known local landmarks, such as Swan Library, the Lake Ontario State Parkway, Redman Road, Lake Ontario, Dinosaur BBQ and many others.
Unleaving deals with difficult themes – sexual assault on a college campus and victim-blaming after the perpetrators are kicked off the football team and out of school.
Maggie is a 19-year-old college student who is gang-raped in college. She leaves that college town in Vermont and heads to her Aunt Wren’s cottage along Lake Ontario. Wren is a sculptor whose latest work is a statement of Wren’s own childhood sexual abuse.
Maggie arrives at Aunt Wren’s and can barely get out of bed and function. But she gets her strength back, and connects with some of Wren’s neighbors and also makes new friends in a book group. Wren’s neighbors – a young father who is an artist, a mom fighting addiction – are overcomers in their right and their resilience empowers Maggie.
Another sexual assault victim at the college sends Maggie an email, sharing about her rape. Maggie reaches out to that victim who is back in Maggie’s hometown. Maggie goes back home to visit that young woman. On that trip she realizes she is mostly reviled on campus because she reported her rape, which led to six football players being expelled.
Macmillan, in its description of the book, calls Unleaving “urgent and timely.”
“Melissa Ostrom explores the intricacies of shame and victim-blaming that accompany the aftermath of assault,” Macmillan states.
The author teaches English literature at Genesee Community College. She previously taught English at Kendall Central School.