Few things pair better than cold weather and indoor reading, and one book that might drastically improve your winter is Sweetgirl. The novel is the first from writer Travis Mulhauser, who grew up in Petoskey and sets his stories in a fictional Michigan locale called Cutler County. Mulhauser’s work has earned comparisons to gritty Appalachian writers like Ron Rash (Serena) and Daniel Woodrell (Winter’s Bone), but Mulhauser sets his work apart with his truly funny voice.
Sweetgirl, which the Detroit Free Press recognized as one of Michigan’s most notable books of 2017, shows a blizzard through the eyes of 16-year-old Percy James. Percy’s mother, a drug addict, has just gone missing, and the blunt, courageous teen has to navigate her isolated small town in hopes of bringing her mother home safely. With Sweetgirl, Mulhauser builds a convincing portrait of Midwestern, small-town living that’s as hopeful as it is grim. Thanks to its lean size, Sweetgirl can be devoured in an afternoon—or through the course of another inevitable snow storm.