“Balkan never flinches from exploring the moral complexity of the choices his characters make. This deeply touching story moves seamlessly between the past and the present, the truth and the need to hide it, and all the while Balkan captivates us with the beauty of his prose.”
Paris, South Dakota, summer 1976. Fifteen-year-old Lilly is crushed by the news that her mother's boyfriend will become her father, making her feel lonelier and more invisible than ever. That same morning, she runs into Lee, a handsome and mysterious stranger. It isn't long before she takes off with him, deeming it a grand adventure across the Great Plains.
New Orleans, Louisiana, autumn 1992. Fifteen-year-old Lindsey has just learned that her father is not, in fact, dead—but will be shortly if the state of South Dakota has its way. As she and her mother embark on a long bus ride north, Lilly slowly opens up, revealing to her daughter the true story of her past: why she and Lee went on the run, how Lindsey came to be, and the reason Lee is about to be executed for a crime of passion. Independence is an evocative story of true love, youthful mistakes, desperation, and breath-taking betrayal.
“From the moment Lee walks onto the first page of this irresistible novel, and into Lilly's life, you know things are headed south. At play here are notions of escaping and returning as acts of reclamation of one's own independence and identity, guided by a masterful storyteller.”
—Gregg Wilhelm, George Mason University
224 pp. 5.5 x 8.5