Thursday, April 28, 2022

JASMINE's THOUGHTS on A Tiny Upward Shove by Melissa Chadburn

Publish Date:
April 12, 2022

Marina Salles’s life does not end the day she wakes up dead.

Instead, in the course of a moment, she is transformed into the stuff of myth, the stuff of her grandmother’s old Filipino stories―an aswang. She spent her life on the margins, knowing very little about her own life, let alone the lives of others; she was shot like a pinball through a childhood of loss, a veteran of Child Protective Services and a survivor, but always reacting, watching from a distance. Death brings her into the hearts and minds of those she has known―even her killer―as she is able to access their memories and to see anew the meaning of her own. In the course of these pages she traces back through her life, finally able to see what led these lost souls to this crushingly inevitable conclusion.

In A Tiny Upward Shove, the debut novelist Melissa Chadburn charts the heartbreaking journeys of two of society’s cast-offs as they find their way to each other and their roles as criminal and victim. What does it mean to be on the brink? When are those moments that change not only our lives but our very selves? And how, in this impossible world, can we rouse ourselves toward mercy?



Praise for A Tiny Upward Shove

A Tiny Upward Shove is gloriously voiced, the kind of addictive and headlong novel that makes reading into a wild bronco ride. Melissa Chadburn has it, the spark; her first novel is strange and tender and not to be missed.”
Lauren Groff, author of Matrix

“In A Tiny Upward Shove, Melissa Chadburn leans into the center of a bad dream. Go with her. Keep going.”
Sia, singer/songwriter

Melissa Chadburn gives words to a life’s sorrow, breathing into a life’s pain what novels provide―detailed and observant empathy. In sharing the trauma of a haunted and hunted soul, the novel gives back to society its terrible face.”
Gina Apostol, author of Insurrecto

“An extraordinary book with surprising turns and fierce momentum, A Tiny Upward Shove illuminates a very real Canadian serial killer and the underworld of children set adrift by poverty and broken families. I felt a gratitude to Melissa Chadburn for her moral courage and unflinching honesty―she writes about the most difficult aspects of life with beauty and empathy. This book is alive, and you can feel its heart beating; when you read its pages, I promise you will feel its life rush through you.”
Jennifer Percy, author of Demon Camp

Melissa Chadburn’s riveting debut novel offers readers an astonishing story about what makes us human and bound to each other. A Tiny Upward Shove gives us Marina, a half Black, half Filipina character whose complex life, imploded by rape, addiction, and prostitution, takes her through Northern California, Southern California, and Vancouver. In transitory, dreamy prose that is revelatory and cutting, the novel barrels toward an inevitable climax of murder and redemption. More books should be written like this: fiercely, without apology, and with devastating honesty.”
Dana Johnson, author of Elsewhere, California

Melissa Chadburn has given an engrossingly raw but tenderly vulnerable voice to the narrator of her debut novel. She brings to vivid life a character stained by cruelty, but who has the last word?”
―Lisa Ling, journalist and coauthor of Somewhere Inside

Read more Praise and Reviews → HERE


**About the Author**
Melissa Chadburn’s writing has appeared in The LA Times, NYT Book Review, NYRB, Longreads, Paris Review online, and dozens other places. Her essay on food insecurity was published in Best American Food Writing 2019. She’s done extensive reporting on the child welfare system and appears in the Netflix docuseries The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez. Her debut novel, A Tiny Upward Shove, is forthcoming with Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. She is a Ph.D. candidate at USC’s Creative Writing Program. Melissa is a worker lover and through her own work and literary citizenship strives to upend economic violence. Her mother taught her how to sharpen a pencil with a knife and she’s basically been doing that ever since.

Stay connected with Melissa Chadburn


***My Thoughts***

Note: This Review contains NO spoilers
Wow! What a gripping and vivid debut novel by acclaimed writer and activist Melissa ChadburnFilled with Filipino folklore and mysticism, A Tiny Upward Shove is a graphically dark and disturbing narrative of Marina Salles's life. Although this story contains haunting and horrific situations, the author brilliantly writes a riveting narrative which will immerse reader(s) into Marina's dark and twisted preternatural world and atmosphere.

I was definitely one reader that got lost in this book as the author took me on an eerie exploration through Marina's life with a good amount of Filipino folklore and superstition woven throughout. A Tiny Upward Shove is a definite page-turner that will keep reader(s) at the edge-of-their-seat.

I do have to say it was not an easy read due to the unsettling situations throughout the book, but well worth the read.

My rating:

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