No matter how we try to hide our pasts, the truth finds its way to the surface, sometimes in devastating ways.
Mary Jo Johnson has a secret.
In the summer of 1949, twelve-year-old Mary Jo is changed forever. Not understanding why, she suddenly has the attention of one of her parents’ friends, Roger Bradfield, who notices things about Mary Jo no one else ever has. In Roger’s gaze, she is special, wonderful, perfect.
But for a twelve-year-old girl, “consent” is a foreign concept, especially when it comes to a much older and powerful man. When Mary Jo becomes pregnant, her parents protect Roger, not to mention their status in the town, and—they hope—Mary Jo’s future. Mary Jo is sent away to live with her grandmother for a time as they spin a story that will blanket all their lives with a lie.
That summer reaches into the decades as Mary Jo moves forward into her own life. Mary Jo gets married, has more children, and obtains the country club membership, nice house, and upper-middle-class trappings promised by her upbringing. But the lie never goes away, affecting not only her but generations to come. At the end, will the truth come out, or will Mary Jo take her trauma to the grave?
“What the Moon Didis a masterful telling of a family’s hidden tragedy and the unhealed wounds that long ripple throughout their lives. Inclán reveals each character's journey with clear-eyed wisdom and empathy, weaving a powerfully real and intimate drama that haunted me after I finished the last page." -- Lynn Sheene, author of The Last Time I Saw Paris
Short story collection Trick of the Porch Light to be published by Mouthfeel PressFall 2023.