The Talking Stick

The situation:  real women with real and painful problems.
The solution:  have friends.  Also, magic.
The result:  A thoroughly engaging, completely entertaining novel by the great Donna Levin.

– Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, and Booth

Hunter is lost. Her husband left her for Angelica, her former best friend whose new hit memoir is spreading unsavory lies about Hunter. She’s unemployed with no prospects, and the San Francisco flea market she’s wandering on a weekday is so foggy that she literally doesn’t know where she is.

It’s only after a helpful visit and a gift from a stranger who appears from the mist that Hunter finds her resolve. She begins a support group for women looking for new beginnings—only to have Angelica start one, too. In the next room over. One that feels very cult-y.

The Talking Stick is the adventure of Hunter and the three women who join her reclamation journey. Together, they reexamine their pasts, explore their grief, addictions, parenting, and marriages, and discover that some of their most-cherished memories are romanticized versions of the truth. Meanwhile, they unearth other memories—memories that challenge how they’ve been living for years. And, with the help of a lawyer who prefers life on a houseboat to the pretensions of the city, Hunter unravels Angelica’s scheme.

The Talking Stick is a fast-paced dramedy set in the Bay Area, told with the characteristic humor of Donna Levin, an author whom Kirkus called “A witty, modern voice” and the Los Angeles Times deemed “a novelist to keep high on your reading list.”

There’s More than One Way Home

“[An] engrossing and vibrant novel…. This standout book delivers a tightly-woven plot that unwinds through scenes rendered with depth…. Readers will have no difficulty opening themselves up to Anna’s heart… This is a smart, wise and big-hearted book.”

Blue Ink Reviews

Through her fast-paced prose, engaging plot, and sharp insights, Levin  underscores how intolerance and ignorance can cause difficult situations to spiral out of control. … In a friendly, nearly conversational style reminiscent of Liane Moriarty, Levin covers everything from social-climbing PTA moms in contemporary suburbia to a complex love affair and corrupt practices in the nation’s penal system.
Kirkus Reviews

Anna Kagen seems to have it all:  She’s young, beautiful, and married to a wealthy, prominent man.

But within the walls of her San Francisco mansion, she spends her time dodging her husband’s barbs and hunting down potential friends for her son, Jack, a 10-year-old on the autistic spectrum.

That old life suddenly seems idyllic when, on a school field trip, she makes the small error in judgment that sets in motion a chain of events that leads to another boy’s death.  Suddenly Jack is a suspect, her husband’s career is in jeopardy, and Anna has to choose between loyalty to her son … and what may be her one chance at happiness.

He Could Be Another Bill Gates

Full of pathos, wit, and tenderness, Levin’s latest novel will appeal to any parent who has felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. Refreshingly, she doesn’t shy away from the alternately frustrating and triumphant realities of parenting an autistic child.

A complex and insightful rendering of contemporary love and family.

Anna Kagen had her heart broken five years ago–so badly that she can’t imagine ever having another man in her life. Her ex-husband, Alex, would like her to stay single: that would ensure that he has control of their children, Jack, a 16-year-old on the autism spectrum, and five-year-old Marissa, whose “giftedness” might be wishful thinking on his part, since he needs someone to achieve his own unfulfilled ambitions.

As for Jack, he’s ready to open his heart: to the lissome redhead and high school queen bee, Ashleigh. And she’s taking an interest in him!

When Anna reconnects with Jason, a man from her past who was once kind to her and who has a special needs son of his own, they seem destined to become a new family. But not if their ex-spouses have anything to say about it….

California Street

“A playful, psychological chess game cum mystery… Strewn with clues, red herrings, false starts and suspense.”

– San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle

An inventive novel that is thought-provoking and fun to read…. A psychological whydunit in addition to a whodunit.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review

Guilt is San Francisco psychologist Joel Abramowitz’s business — and it is his second feeling after lovely very rich Margot, his best friend’s wife confesses she loves him. His first feeling is unabashed lust. But the next morning, the lady vanishes, and then an overweight, wildly jealous patient appears at Joel’s office to confess she forced Margot’s car off the road. Is it the client’s fantasy … or is Margot dead? A twisted skein of love, murder and compulsion soon leads Joel Abramowitz on a frantic womanhunt through California’s mad, mad world. And he certainly has his hands full, dealing with “issues” and outright lunacy — and fearing what may reside in the shadowlands of his own desperate heart….

Extraordinary Means

“Levin’s first novel is a timely, poignant and very funny fantasy in which a California girl falls into an irreversible coma and then listens in horror as her family fight over pulling the plug.  … A delightful running commentary on modern-day California… In all, a witty, clear-eyed debut.”

Kirkus Reviews

Meet Melissa Silverstein. She’s twenty-four, witty, cynical, unemployed and unmarried, drifting through life, waiting for the action to start. And Melissa is in a coma. On the outside, she’s a shell of a girl, but inside – well, her mind is churning. She’s about to take you on a completely unexpected, hysterically funny and touching journey into the inner dreams of a modern-day American family.

Speaking of that family … Dad hasn’t come to visit her once. He’s tied up in court trying to stop the hospital from pulling the plug. Every night, Mom’s in the arms of Melissa’s young doctor. Then there’s her brother, Daniel. He’s thinking about killing her. And a host of others – the two younger sisters, rabbis, old boyfriends, scheming aunts – are convinced that only they know what Melissa really wanted to do with her life … and her death.

Melissa doesn’t really know either, but for the first time, she’s stopped drifting. And she’s going to use all of her strength, all of her will, to figure out her place in this battling, loving, anxious, noisy family of hers.

Discover for yourself the story that the San Francisco Chronicle calls “an extraordinarily lively, funny novel!”

“The only way to do all the things you’d like to do is to read.”

Tom Clancy