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Gradle Bird





Sixteen-year-old Gradle Bird has lived her entire life with her Grandpa, Leonard, at a seedy motel and truck stop off Georgia’s I-16. But when Leonard moves her to a crumbling old house rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Ms. Annalee Spivey, Gradle is plunged into a lush, magical world much stranger and more dangerous than from the one she came.    

Here she meets Sonny Joe Stitch, a Siamese fighting fish connoisseur overdosed on testosterone, a crippled, Bible-thumping hobo named Ceif “Tadpole” Walker, and the only true friend she will ever know, a schizophrenic genius, music-man, and professional dumpster-diver, D-5 Delvis Miles.    


As Gradle falls deeper into Delvis’s imaginary and fantastical world, unsettling dangers lurk, and when surfaced Gradle discovers unforeseen depths in herself and the people she loves the most.    

Gradle Bird is an unusual tale of self-discovery and redemption that explores the infirmities of fatherly love, the complexities of human cruelty, and the consequences of guilt, proving they are possible to overcome no matter how dark and horrible the cause. 


"A Southern Gothic tour de force" - The Charleston Post and Courier

"Sasser finds beauty among the ruins." - Deep South Magazine


"Think Flannery O'Connor riffing Elmore Leonard and you get some sense of this wildly inventive, picaresque novel that stretches the boundaries of what it means to be family and what it costs to love and be loved. But don't get me wrong. J.C. Sasser writes in her own lyrical style, weaving often tragicomic events into a mosaic of sometimes hallucinogenic wonder. Her characters seem swept up in an arch of ever-pending disaster. And yet, in the unforgettable presence of Gradle Bird herself, the book's 16-year-old chief protagonist, you learn how redemption can stumble into our lives at the unlikeliest of times from the unlikeliest places." - Ken Wells, author of Meely LaBauve


Anyone who doesn’t fall in love with Gradle Bird, the character, might want to stop by an Urgent Care facility for an EKG. Anyone not totally mesmerized by the world depicted in Gradle Bird, the novel, might as well forfeit his or her Human Being ID card. J.C. Sasser’s invented a complex, big-hearted, dirt-road-smart protagonist surrounded by hilarious one-of-a-kind characters (and a ghost). Absurd, yet utterly believable. Southern, yet universal. I’m jealous.

-George Singleton, author of Calloustown and The Half-Mammals of Dixie


"Any book that begins with the title character giving someone the bird on I-16 really speaks to my soul. Gradle Bird is like a good country song, and it features some of the finest cursing I've ever read. Christians are going to love this book!" - Harrison Scott Key, author of The World's Largest Man


"Lush, haunting and imaginative, Gradle Bird marks J.C. Sasser as America's new Southern Gothic darling, a name soon to be spoken alongside the likes of Harper Lee and Carson McCullers." -Bren McClain, author of One Good Mama Bone


"Gradle Bird is a dazzling debut dripping with detail and drenched with unforgettable characters. Heart-wrenched and rhythmic, Sasser's language breathes life to the page." - David Joy, author of The Weight Of This World


"Gradle Bird is a supreme mix of the gritty, the grotesque, and the haunted. Any fan of Southern fiction will be transfixed, and any Southern writer should take careful note." - James McTeer, author of Minnow


"Gradle Bird-or perhaps J.C. Sasser's brilliantly imaginative mind-should come with caution tape around it. It stunned me again and again." - Nicole Seitz, author of The Cage-maker

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