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She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper

  • "This is a father-daughter story with a nasty twist. Short and terse this is the story 11 year old Polly McClusky and her ex-con father Nate who is trying to save her life. He couldn’t save his wife from a violent gang intent on wiping him and his family off the face of the earth but he will save Polly, and in the process teach her all his tricks of survival which she then turns around to use saving him. Well written and smart, She Rides Shotgunreminds me a little of last year’s Beltie Prize winner, Safeby Ryan Gattis, in its originality in taking a tired old plotline and breathing new life into it.” -- Pete


  • A propulsive, gritty novel about a girl marked for death who must fight and steal to stay alive, learning from the most frightening man she knows—her father.

    Eleven-year-old Polly McClusky is shy, too old for the teddy bear she carries with her everywhere, when she is unexpectedly reunited with her father, Nate, fresh out of jail and driving a stolen car. He takes her from the front of her school into a world of robbery, violence, and the constant threat of death. And he does it to save her life.

    Nate made dangerous enemies in prison—a gang called Aryan Steel has put out a bounty on his head, counting on its members on the outside to finish him off. They’ve already murdered his ex-wife, Polly’s mother. And Polly is their next target.

    Nate and Polly’s lives soon become a series of narrow misses, of evading the bad guys and the police, of sleepless nights in motels. Out on the lam, Polly is forced to grow up early: with barely any time to mourn her mother, she must learn how to take a punch and pull off a drug-house heist. She finds herself transforming from a shy little girl into a true fighter. Nate, in turn, learns what it’s like to love fiercely and unconditionally—a love he’s never quite felt before. But can their powerful bond transcend the dangerous existence he’s carved out for them? Will they ever be able to live an honest life, free of fear?

    She Rides Shotgun is a gripping and emotionally wrenching novel that upends even our most long-held expectations about heroes, villains, and victims. Nate takes Polly to save her life, but in the end it may very well be Polly who saves him.

  • JORDAN HARPER was born and educated in Missouri. He has been a music journalist, film critic, and TV writer. Harper's previous book of short stories, Love and Other Wounds, was published in 2015. He lives in Los Angeles.

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