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Pub Date 17 May 2024 | Archive Date 14 Jul 2024

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MONARCH: Stories subverts the reader's common perceptions about how love can heal, how loss and suffering can transform, and how every character deserves a second chance. America's city scars, sewers, alleyways, and bars are landscape to their wars, as characters heal and transform under wind turbines and on open roads, in golden cornfields and with the wails of Chicago blues. Heroes in this collection are the marginalized, the sufferers, the down-trodden, the misfits, the wanderers, and the wounded, shaped by grief but not defined by their scars.

Honoring the human capacity for change, characters drive the collection, turning up the dial to raise the volume of voice for those who live on the fringe and are often ignored. In collection, MONARCH is an exploration of the human condition through a lens of damaged survivors as they learn to love through small acts of kindness, given and received. Characters bear traumas with their bodies, and often, they transgress. They break in, break down, and ultimately, break open.

An inclusive invitation, MONARCH aims at an intimate portrayal of scarred characters on American streets beating the drum of current culture against the fierce rhythm of critical social justice issues. With this at its heart, the collection Includes a reading guide written by the author with prompts intended to inspire discourse between readers, writers, and students, making the work of special interest to librarians, teachers, book clubs, and beyond.

Foreword by Chris Abani, author of The Secret History of Las Vegas.

MONARCH: Stories subverts the reader's common perceptions about how love can heal, how loss and suffering can transform, and how every character deserves a second chance. America's city scars...

Advance Praise

“A gutsy, grungy collection centering troubled souls. More than a collection of stories, Tobias’ debut is a selection of gritty, emotional character studies … Brimming with pure Americana, not unlike the movies Wild at Heart or Thelma and Louise, Tobias’ stories pull no punches. Readers are given descriptions of characters’ troubled mental states, which, like their bodies, ache and ooze … A strong collection.”

Kirkus Reviews

"This remarkable debut collection that traverses many of the parts of America that are unseen, or at least, unseen in this way, and gives us a wealth of material to engage with and themes that make a collection worth biting into – loyalty, betrayal, happiness and deep sorrow, addiction and victory and a reclamation of selves against the nearly impossible grind of modern American life."

--Chris Abani, author of The Secret History of Las Vegas

“Close your eyes and imagine a story collection where every story is a diamond. MONARCH is just that. Each story took me and never let go, even after the story had long ended. Written with such grace and elegance, this collection pulses with so much life, so much compassion, even when things seem to be bleak. After you finish this collection, after you read it for a second and third time, you’ll find yourself asking what I asked: "Where is Emily Jon Tobias’s next book?”

--Morgan Talty, author of Night of the Living Rez

“Superb, original and thoroughly alive with heartbreak and wonder. Tobias is electrifying.”

--Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and author of This is How You Lose Her

"Richly rendered in knife-sharp and evocative prose, the stories in MONARCH by Emily Jon Tobias are full of wounded hearts. They seek redemption, revenge, liberation, and rescue. What Tobias delivers through them is compassion, laying bare the complexities of a full spectrum of American life. A moving debut."

--Talia L. Kolluri, author of What We Fed to the Manticore

“Full of empathy and rendered in searing, visceral prose, MONARCH shines brightly. In eleven vivid, affecting stories, Tobias turns her careful attention toward the strugglers and strivers among us—the result is heartfelt and immersive.”

--Kimberly King-Parsons, author of Black Light

"The stories in MONARCH are raw and gritty and always real. Emily Jon Tobias gives voice to the outsiders, the misfits, and the broken. I can’t say enough great things about this debut collection."

--Willy Vlautin, author of Lean on Pete and The Night Always Comes

“A haunting, lyrical debut. These stories are unforgettable and wrenching, vital and wise. I’ll be returning to this book again and again. Tobias is an unmistakable talent.”

--Chelsea Bieker, author of Godshot and Heartbroke

“The lost, the disillusioned, the mistreated, the desperate - Tobias inhabits all these characters with a singular poetic vision and an eye which is both compassionate and unflinching. Their interior lives and bruised, aching secrets resonated and lingered with me long after I finished reading.”

--Cate Kennedy, author of Like a House on Fire

"In these dazzling, kaleidoscopic stories Emily Jon Tobias arranges the jagged shards of life into patterns that shift and catch the light to take your breath away. These are wise, big-hearted stories from a writer of prodigious talent."

--Valerie Laken, author of Dream House and Separate Kingdoms

"Libraries and readers seeking stories about addiction, transformation, success, and failure will find MONARCH: Stories captures a series of alterations and relationships that reflect love, loss, and the outer limits of the underbelly of American culture and influence. Highly recommended, this literary work will especially spark book club discussions of contemporary women's writings that are firmly rooted in emotional and social change."

-- D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

"Women’s past and present mingle in Tobias’s stories where sentences are loaded with momentum and crafted with astonishing descriptions and surprising beauty. Regrets and disappointments haunt forlorn characters in this collection as they push through the pain in needles and whiskey, in babies that float, in the car on the highway with the windows down--maybe all at the same time, forever fleeing but never able. MONARCH is packed with troubles, richly drawn and wrenched from alleys, from mattresses, lest we forget."

--Thea Swanson, author of Mars

"Simultaneously raw, ferocious, frank and tender, these stories take readers on a harrowing journey of self-discovery and loss. There is a brutal beauty in this book as again and again, Tobias' characters touch that throbbing desire to live and love dangerously. Emily Jon Tobias is merciless in this collection; her stories cut straight to the heart. This is unflinching prose at its best."

--Leah Bailly, Ph.D., author and educator, winner of 2022 CRAFT First Chapters Contest

"MONARCH is a startling debut from a gifted, compassionate writer. Emily Jon Tobias's stories shock, awe, wound, and--ultimately--lift your heart. So many times will lives seem in ruin only to emerge more beautiful than before, not unlike a monarch butterfly shattering through its motley cocoon."

--Sarah Balakrishnan, Ph.D., writer/scholar/editor, winner of Narrative Magazine's Best Under 30 Prize for fiction

"The eleven stories in Emily Jon Tobias’s collection entitled MONARCH are a true testament to the author’s ability to elevate and elucidate for the reader what it truly means to be part of a marginalized, often forgotten community. Tobias uses a deftness of hand in all of the stories, taking the reader into the world of those who suffer the most with the least amount of attention.

When I read the title story, “Monarch” I felt as if the author had a window into my soul. Any person who has ever experience abuse or microaggressions, will feel a tug towards this story and others in this collection. If the reader has somehow been fortunate enough to escape the heartbreak and neglect expressed in these stories, they can consider themselves lucky and they can thank Tobias for showing them an unflinching look into a world of pain but also a world of resilience. Tobias is only going to grow as an author and a truthteller. I count it an honor to witness a portion of her journey and I am buckling up my seatbelt for what is to come next.

--Angela Jackson-Brown, award-winning author of When Stars Rain Down and The Light Always Breaks

"With prose at once sparse and weighty, Tobias effortlessly embodies the styles of Denis Johnson and Raymond Carver--while making them all her own. In this impressive debut collection, Tobias casts the spotlight on a wide array of characters/(unsung antiheroes) from varying walks of this often bleak thing called life. Showing us a vast scope of seemingly tranche de vie scenarios, ranging from 'Nova' to 'Fish and Flowers,' each tale of quiet woe in MONARCH offers its reader a kind of romantic fatalism, embedded among such philosophical themes as: the patriarch as fallen god ('Jesus Wears Bermudas'), abusive relationships and repression ('Red Cardboard Hearts Hanging From Strings') and being an addict flitting among the invisible great unwashed ('Under Her Cellophane Skin'). Wherever you fall on the spectrum of this existence, Tobias has surely covered it within these pages in delicate, thought-provoking detail."

--Genna Rivieccio, Editor-in-Chief, The Opiate Magazine

"In Emily Jon Tobias’s raw and stunning story collection, grief, longing, fear and addiction live as companions to adoration, survival and the holy. Tobias’s characters are desperate and sorrowful, lost and grimly doomed—except in those moments when, as they frequently do, they soar. Here are characters who, like us, are broken and bruised: in ways that feel familiar and in ways that deeply unsettle. Longing for safety, for connection, they move through the world like cats in the night: on the hunt for some elusive sustaining force. Prowling the bitterest darkness, ravenous and unceasing, and also—in ways even they may not yet recognize—unexpectedly and uncompromisingly free."

 --Shari MacDonald Strong, Editor of The Maternal Is Political

"An emotionally poignant debut collection. Tobias fashions perspectives that feel both familiar and fresh. Her characters struggle with mental health, body image, addiction, lost relationships, and hurts that many of us will recognize, whether in ourselves or those around us. At the core, MONARCH is about connection, how we all seek it in some way or another, how we can find love in surprising ways, how our desire for love can also cause pain. Tobias’s stories will leave your ears ringing, her characters’ voices resonating like a song, swooping between heartache and soulful hope."

--J Saler Drees, author/reviewer

"Tobias's debut collection of transformational stories evokes the pain and pleasure of self-acceptance after years of self-denial. Take the amazing ride of actualization with each of Tobias's characters as they evolve like monarch butterflies in this evocative collection."

-- Lisa Kastner, Founder and Executive Editor of Running Wild and RIZE Presses, and author of the acclaimed Lycanthrope novel, CURE

"Slipping inside the pages of MONARCH feels like hopping in a getaway car with Emily Jon Tobias, who rockets readers through richly-drawn landscapes where characters come to life in all their broken beauty. This collection is a powerful and unflinching exploration of the hunger we feel for love, acceptance, and ultimately, belonging. MONARCH sizzles with electric imagery that burns with neon brightness long after the final sentence.

Some lines that leap off the page include:

'On the meds, life is a wrist watch and she’s the broken second hand, wound up but not going anywhere.'

'For her father, trying to help his wife was like being outdoors during a tornado. He went underground too late, after she’d already blown through him.'

I'm eagerly awaiting Emily Jon Tobias's next work."

--Liz Alterman, author of The Perfect Neighborhood

"Emily Jon Tobias is a bold and charismatic writer whose significant gift is connecting readers to her soulful life journey and empathic heart. In these rich, original, and emotionally compelling stories, she reveals complex and memorable characters and their contemporary challenges as a way of providing her fresh and rewarding perspectives on compassion, healing, and the enduring power of hope … and of love."

--Joe Maita, Editor/Publisher, Jerry Jazz Musician

"Emily Jon Tobias’ beautiful and powerful words go straight to the hearts of her readers. She maintains the tension in her stories of damaged women through careful use of detail, metaphor, and point of view. Sometimes her characters struggle to help others, sometimes they punish themselves, and sometimes they seek revenge. Together these women make MONARCH a collection impossible to put down."

--Steve Lindahl, Managing Editor of Flying South Literary Journal

"Emily Jon Tobias sets us free by revealing that which shackles us. She takes us into the tight, uncomfortable holes of our humanity and gives us space to consider what damage might get done and allows us to emerge through the opening into what she sees beyond. Taking on the gritty bits without flinching, Tobias writes to those of us who believe we can’t be saved by reminding us that making mistakes is not the same as being one.”

-- Courtney Morgan, President of Talking River Review

"In this collection of portraits, Tobias explores the unsettling beauty to be found in the places where dark and light dwell together. These stories do not shy away from the depths, as though mining the source of feminine healing to lead us fearlessly and unashamedly forward."

-- Jennifer Top, TulipTree Publishing

“A gutsy, grungy collection centering troubled souls. More than a collection of stories, Tobias’ debut is a selection of gritty, emotional character studies … Brimming with pure Americana, not unlike...

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Featured Reviews

NOW this is how I’d picture I’d experience America , the real America, the middle America, the raw America… you get the picture.

In Monarch, Emily Jon Tobias writes with an unflinching rawness, and grittiness that fans of Cormac McCarthy would love. With every story, Emily manages to evoke a different emotion whilst keeping true to her style of writing. Taking you through a journey of a country and its people so vast and diverse. If I had a Birds Eye view of America that is on the road trip from east to west coast… I’d assume this is the kind of stories I’d encounter.

Emily writes with empathy, honesty and is a refreshing breath of fresh air from all that is out there - at the moment. I had to read this in one sitting and didn’t stop till I was done.

I loved this.

Thanks to Black Lawrence press and NetGalley for this ARC

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Monarch is a collection of stories encompassing issues like addition, abuse, neglect, self-punishment, love and hope. When reading this I remembered the line from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, "We accept the love we think we deserve", this line fully envelopes the sentiment behind this collection. I found all the stories captivating, tumultuous, unnerving and insightful. There was a lot of cross over of themes throughout the collection and similarities in stories but not to the detriment of the grander scheme the stories tried to convey. I thought this was very well done collection and would recommend to everyone to read, except read the trigger warnings first, just in case. There are a lot of tough subjects dealt. 4.5 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟

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Brokenness and struggle abound in this collection of short stories, but so does the possibility of change and growth. I think what I appreciated about this book the most is the gritty context these stories take place in. In the places I've worked I've seen this brokenness and grown up around it to a large extent. It's the world I know, but there are also occasions of beauty and revelation. In some ways, Tobias reminded me of what I feel when I read Flannery O'Connor. The most unlikely people experiencing flashes of grace even if it's not what you would expect. Tobias is clearly a talented writer and this is a collection I think that will connect with many people that contemporary fiction does may not.

Thank you to NetGalley and Black Lawrence Press for the ARC.

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I have never read anything like this debut. It’s poignant, dark, ethereal, tender, and dreamy. I was blown away by the writing style, and by how different the characters are yet how so much connects them. The collection explores painful subjects like addiction and abuse, but it also explores belonging, identity, and parental influence. I loved the fact that women are at the centre of the stories, but the men are also incredibly interesting characters. We have a window into their yearnings and wants, and what continues to haunt them. The stories have such creative titles.

Thank you, Emily, for the incredible debut. Thank you, NetGalley, and thank you, Black Lawrence Press for the ARC. I can’t wait to attend a book signing.

#MonarchStories #NetGalley

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MONARCH: stories is an incredible collection from Emily Jon Tobias. Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read these stories.

Every human has a capacity for change, but society often gets in the way.
The author writes like a best friend telling you a story at the end of a long day -- familiar and winding, as if you know all the tangents and thoughts in their head, too. Her stories read more like poetry than literature, and flit between trauma and love and the trauma of loving and being loved.
Safety, (mis)trust, desire, and grief are themes throughout this collection, which is sometimes rambling in the best ways, but always written from the heart.
I devoured this collection in one sitting, but in rereading I would definitely spend more time with each short story's protagonist, if I could do it all over again. I look forward to revisiting these characters again in the future.

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My Rating: 5⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I really liked this one, it made me feel all the things!!!

This is a collection of stories depicting love and loss and suffering, how people deserve second chances and how not everyone gets a happy ending. America’s city scars, sewers, alleyways and bars are the landscape for these tales.

It is a collection of the human condition through the lens of damaged survivors as they learn to love through small acts of kindness, given and received.

First up I want to say that this wont be for everyone, you will also need to mind your trigger warnings. These stories are by no means happy, they as stated above are drawn from traumatic events and sadness. Major TW for Miscarriage, SA, Addiction and many others.

I really enjoyed this collection, the author opens with some raw information on her own journey of mental health, addition and exploration of finding her way back to herself and to happiness which I found really helped me understand how she wrote these sad stories so beautifully, that is not to say that these are all reflective of her own situation I can’t imagine they are but I would guess that she has met many of these characters by different names in her life and I really liked the realism that gave each story. They are raw and real and they are sad. Which is exactly how life is.

I am not going to break down every individual story because they are all short and they are all worth reading. Some are a bit weird and some are downright depressing… but I love me some dark and sad because as I said that is all part of life. Things cannot and definitely are not happy all the time. I found myself with some tears in my eyes throughout this book which does not happen very often and that is one of the main reasons I have 5 starred this. It is just so real. The writing is really excellent as well and for a debut book I am super impressed.

I will be keeping an eye out for this author again… I do hope she does some more work similar to this or a full length novel with some of this looking for happiness in the sewer themes. I think some really important issues were touched on and I normally don’t read for social justice issues I like to keep my views on those things out of my hobby but this was done so well that it didn’t feel like a political agenda in anyway it just was … and it just is the human condition at its most vulnerable and I really enjoyed that.

If you read this and you say to me, why did you give this 5 stars when you gave X 5 stars they are so different and I didn’t like X or Y or whatever… well this is a different 5 stars. This is a short story collection Lit Fic 5 stars and it ticks my personal boxes. The writing was excellent, I felt sad and happy and amused… I got teary which is hard to do to me so it was a definite factor and I personally love reading sad stories that don’t always get a happy ending… or don’t always get the ending you are hoping for. Because to me that is real life… life is not all running into the sunset with the person you wanted to run off with… and that is sad… but its so damn real that this book really highlighted the flaws that live and breathe in ourselves and our world. Ooooh Karly thats deep…

So… overall, if you like the stressy and depressy but very very real and relatable (and often times close to home if you suffer, have suffered or know those that do) then this might be for you. The writing is fantastic Emily can sure tell a tale. But if you are thinking wow this seems like it will make me feel shit and I don’t like that… then please skip it and please mind your TWs as I said before.

I want to thank Emily Jon Tobias for an amazing story and Black Lawrence Press and NetGalley for my Advanced Reader Copy for an honest review. I really loved this story and cannot wait to read more by this author.

Oh and PS: there is a reader guide at the back to use for your own journalling or book club and I thought that was really cool. Its not done like others I have seen before and I really liked it.

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I’ve never read anything like this and it definitely made me feel every emotion in such a deep way.
This is such a great piece of art for anyone wanting to feel human, and to remember that everyone struggles in their own way. It was enlightening to peak into the lives and hardships of others that I may not have experienced, or at least not in the same way.
I also think this is great for mood readers looking for something to be swallowed up in that isn’t one specific to one genre or experience but rather a plethora of human experiences.

Thank you to Black Lawrence Press for the ARC!

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MONARCH: Stories is a collection of fears, dreams, and realities that will both haunt and inspire readers.

The short stories in this debut are magnetic— in each story, I found characters that I wanted to cling to. Emily Jon Tobias understands all the things people normally leave unsaid, and she puts them in this book.

This was one of my first short story collections, but it certainly won’t be my last. This collection is a must-read for readers who like their fiction truthful. In short flashes of life, Tobias writes about love, loss, grief, lust, anger, disappointment, addiction, and so, so much more. I would advise readers to check trigger warnings, but Tobias approaches the difficult topics in a raw and honest way. I took my time with this collection, and I would recommend other readers do the same— Tobias’ stories are most impactful when you let them linger.

I gave this collection 4 stars. I really enjoyed a few stories in particular and found myself wishing I could read about them in a full-length novel.

Thank you to Black Lawrence Press and NetGalley for the e-ARC, and congratulations to Emily Jon Tobias on a wonderful debut!

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A collection of short stories exploring glimpses of American life. Flawed, broken characters are portrayed alongside hope and small joys and each story leaves you satisfied. I really enjoyed this one!

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I loved this collection! Can't wait to read more from the author, the range of topics was great and I really enjoyed everything here.

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MONARCH: Stories by Emily Jon Tobias is a wonderful example of writing about characters without judgement. So many of the characters in MONARCH are struggling, or have struggled, with powerful issues like addiction, abuse, and/or decisions that have cost them everything. The characters and situations are gritty and believable; they feel real. I enjoyed this collection and appreciated how cohesive it felt.

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Thank you, NetGalley, and thank you, Black Lawrence Press for the ARC.

I always enjoy a good debut short story collection - and that is exactly what Monarch is! The stories are emotional and well-written. You can tell Emily Jon Tobias has a lifetime of stories to share. I hope this is the first of many collections.

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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this eARC.

“MONARCH: Stories” by Emily Jon Tobias is a debut collection that delves deep into the American psyche through a tapestry of troubled souls and emotional character studies. The stories are set against a backdrop of city scars, alleyways, and the open road, where characters grapple with their wounds and seek transformation amidst their struggles.

The collection opens with “Nova,” where we meet Bettie, a character whose fixation on her enigmatic companion, Jones, leads us down a path of violence and discovery. Tobias’ prose is unflinching, capturing the raw essence of Americana in a manner reminiscent of “Wild at Heart” or “Thelma and Louise.” The narrative is gritty, yet there’s an underlying tenderness—a testament to Tobias’ ability to balance toughness with empathy.

In “Red Cardboard Hearts Hanging From Strings,” we encounter Liza, who navigates the complexities of love and loss, reflecting on a miscarriage as she steps into a new chapter of marriage. The story is a poignant exploration of the human capacity for change and resilience.

“Under Her Cellophane Skin” introduces us to Lemon, a heroin addict whose interactions with a lonely old man in a Seattle bar are as heartbreaking as they are illuminating. Tobias doesn’t shy away from the darker corners of the human experience, instead, she shines a light on them, offering a chance for understanding and connection.

The title story, “Monarch,” is a standout piece that encapsulates the collection’s theme of transformation. Georgia, the protagonist, is described with visceral intensity, her pain and anger palpable. Yet, it’s this very suffering that softens her, allowing her to carry on and fight another day.

Tobias’ writing is at its most potent when it’s blunt and direct, yet she never loses sight of the love she holds for her characters. Each story is a testament to the belief that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, has the opportunity to grow and evolve.

The collection includes a reader’s guide with prompts intended to inspire discourse, making “MONARCH: Stories” is a bold, inclusive invitation to witness the lives of those on the fringes, often ignored but here given a voice that resonates with the fierce rhythm of current culture.

Overall, “MONARCH: Stories” is a powerful debut that promises to leave a lasting impression. It’s a celebration of the human spirit’s indomitable will to heal and transform, even in the face of the harshest realities.

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MONARCH: Stories is a remarkable debut by Emily Jon Tobias. It is a collection of short stories told from the perspective of several different characters in America. Tobias focuses on the misfits and the marginalised. People who are often not heard or ignored - their grief, trauma, love and loss and all the messy growth that happens along the way. A rich, intimate portrayal of the intricacies of human emotion.

Each story was wonderful in its own right, and I was amazed at how skilfully Tobias was able evoke such deep emotions in a very short amount of time. I cared about these characters and their lives like they were my close friends. Each voice crafted is so unique, so distinct and feels truly authentic. It’s like Tobias has lived the lives herself, they are that vivid.

Every time I started a chapter, I found myself making sure I had zero distractions and enough time to finish it so I could let myself be as emerged as possible. Vida was a standout and a story I did not want to leave. This is not a book I was able to pick up and put down casually - it was too hauntingly divine, demanding my full attention in the best way possible.

Some favourites:

‘I feel everything after so long of feeling nothing at all’ from Vida

‘Making mistakes is not the same as being one’ from Under Her Cellophane Skin

‘I will do worse than die on you, she thought’ from Lucky Penny

I don’t re read many books, but I will re read this. Brilliant work and I look forward to anything Emily does in the future.

Thank you Black Lawrence Press and NetGalley for my ARC.

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Tobias was raised in the American midwest and now lives in Southern California. The way she captures and releases hard fought words has a feel of that hardscrabble grit you used to associate with an essential Americanism. It’s all the more poignant that the characters in MONARCH are imperfectly real - addicts and sad girls, overwhelmed mothers and people whose tether to sanity has loosened.

Tobias plays with language and voice to raise her characters into existence.The title story stopped my breath and as I read, I had the distinct sense that Tobias was gleefully playing with her words, stretching out each sentence to its limit, a fullness like the protagonist’s intentional weight gain

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The stories in this collection take a look at American life through the eyes of those often dismissed or forgotten: the abused, the addicted, the grief-stricken, those struggling with eating disorders, mental health, and more. They are about love, transformation, and redemption.

We spend a very brief amount of time with each character in each story but somehow Tobias manages to pull on the heart strings of readers in that time. The stories are poignant, tragic, heart-wrenching, and yet, hopeful. After each story I needed to sit back and have a moment of reflection and a deep breath.

Thank you Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for the digital copy in exchange for an honest review. Available now!

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Wow. This story cycle is actually brilliant. I swear that every word Tobias writes has its own heartbeat.

First of all, I’d like to thank NetGalley & the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review <3

Second of all, if you’re going to read this book, I’m issuing a fat trigger warning ahead of time. I had to take breaks because it’s extremely heavy material. However, these are very important stories that deserve to be felt in full. Take care of yourself first♥️

These are the stories that need to be heard, the stories we look away from, mock, hide our loved ones from, or banish from curriculums. These are truths that cannot be sugarcoated nor sanitized. I didn’t continue reading out of spite for my discomfort, in fact, I embraced it as I made my way through this stunning work. The fact that I was able to do this speaks

I should have more specific examples, but my head is still spinning from what I just read (& my pounding migraine 1!). All I can say is that each story stole my heart entirely. I was wrecked and made whole again more times than I could count. These stories made me feel it all.

The dreamlike style of writing perfectly captures this specific, American “branded” kind of suffering. It puts words to the many eerie components of American life and existence in general. And the fragmented writing conveys addiction & mental illness so well, you feel just as confused & dizzy as the characters do while trying to make sense of their stories.
Tobias’ writing is an utter stream of omnipresent consciousness that honestly takes some getting used to, but it’s fully worth it because you’re experiencing pure brilliance.

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Thank you to NetGalley, author and the publisher for an eARC.

Definitely one of my favourite books of 2024. All the stories in this book were a sweet ride of second chances, emotions, trauma, grief, heartbreak and so much more.

The author did an excellent job describing these emotions and making them relatable to the reader in a unique way. It will be over before you even realise it, which will leave you with a feeling of emptiness, longing and fulfillment at the same time.

Would’ve been a solid 5 ⭐️’s had it not been for 1-2 stories.

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