GOODBYE, SWEET GIRL by Kelly Sundberg

(HarperCollins, 2018)

When Kelly Sundberg’s piece about domestic violence, “It Will Look Like a Sunset,” was published by Guernica magazine in 2014 it was heralded as the must-read piece to explain why women stay and one of the most read pieces in Guernica’s history. A movingly portrait about the see-saw of love/violence that is symptomatic of abusive relationships, one reviewer said, “We come out of her essay believing that a partner can be both loving and dangerous. Warm and monstrous. A good father and a frightening husband.”

In her memoir, Sundberg delves deeper, chronicling the anatomy of marriage, once a love story, and examining why she endured years of physical and emotional abuse. Along the way she’ll reckon with her family and childhood by telling the story of Salmon, a small, isolated mountain town known as the most redneck town in Idaho. Like her marriage, Salmon too is a place of deep contradictions, where Mormon ranchers and hippie back-to-landers live side-by-side; a place of magical beauty riven by secret brutality; a place that takes pride in its individualism yet acceptance is sought and attained via the approval of the church and community, at all costs. While Sundberg will often return to this Idaho wilderness to seek healing, it is through its unrelenting nature that she’ll find the resolve to abandon her marriage for good and make peace with her family.

Kelly Sundberg’s essays have appeared in Guernica, Slice, Quarterly West, The Los Angeles Review, Mid-American Review, PANK, and others. Most recently, her essay “It Will Look Like a Sunset,” was selected by Ariel Levy for publication in the 2015 Best American Essays anthology. An activist and speaker, Sundberg was the 2015 A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Courage Fellow, which is awarded biannually to a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault. Sundberg also works as a resource guide for the domestic violence and sexual assault section of the website ESME (Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere). For more on Sundberg please visit