Shadows Hold Their Breath

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Shadows Hold Their Breath


New Release!

Selected by Kirkus Reviews for Best Indies Books of August 2022 Booklist

“An impressive and thoughtful exploration of the mistakes good people make.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Sherry Robinson, award-winning author of Blessed, returns with a daring novel about social taboos, secrets, grief, and self-discovery.

Shadows Hold Their Breath takes place with the backdrop of the 1970s feminist movement and in the final years of the Vietnam War. It tells the story of Kat Hunter, a woman who decides that the only way she can understand her unresolved grief and discover who she is meant to be is to do the unthinkable—the unforgivable. In October 1979, six years after suffering the loss of Beth, her dear friend and sister-in-law, to enemy mortar fire near the village of Quảng Ngãi, Vietnam, Kat begins to question everything about her traditional life. In the middle of the night, she slips away from her home in Lexington, Kentucky, her husband, and her three young daughters and boards a Greyhound bus with no specific destination in mind. On the bus, she meets Molly, a young woman who reminds her of Beth. With nowhere else to go, Kat follows Molly and Molly’s boyfriend, Jake, to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Once there, Kat joins the artists community and guards the secret that she is married and has abandoned her children to the care of her husband.

Kat’s journey of self-discovery ultimately leads her down an unexpected path—but what is she willing to sacrifice for that journey?

Cover art: Annelisa Hermosilla

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SHERRY ROBINSON is the author of two previous novels, Blessed and My Secrets Cry Aloud (soon to be reissued under the new title Echo Her Lovely Bones). She holds a PhD in English from the University of Kentucky and an MA and MFA from Eastern Kentucky University. Robinson is a native of Lexington, Kentucky. She recently retired as vice provost and professor of English at Eastern Kentucky University, where she spent thirteen years specializing in American literature before moving into administrative positions. For more information, visit and follow her on Facebook.

She is a native of Lexington, Kentucky.

Advance Praise

Like [Henrik] Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and [Kate] Chopin’s The Awakening, Shadows Hold Their Breath explores one woman’s decision to leave her husband and children rather than crumble under the weight of patriarchal roles. Kat is also burdened by grief and an unspoken love that perhaps even in her nascent self-awareness is still taboo. The novel offers no easy answers, no pure absolution, just Kat’s honest quest to accept—and live—her truth.”

—MARIE MANILLA, author of The Patron Saint of Ugly 

Shadows Hold Their Breath is a complicated story about motherhood, grief, and self-discovery. Kat is a troubled, empathetic character searching for independence and understanding. Writing in spare, descriptive prose, Robinson asks difficult and important questions about responsibility and independence without offering facile answers.”

—CARTER SICKELS, author The Prettiest Star

Shadows Hold Their Breath dispels myths of maternal negligence and malice. Robinson demonstrates that there are no heroes or villains in most families, only the choices of a particular season and the reverberating consequences. Set in the wake of the Vietnam War, against the backdrop of social unrest and shifting patriarchy, this novel of identity will leave you rooting for a character whose choices could easily be condemned. Robinson’s novel is a beautiful exercise in mercy.”

—JULIE HENSLEY, author of Landfall: A Ring of Stories

Additional information


Women, Literary




272 pages, $23.95

Publication date:

July 19, 2022


Shadelandhouse Modern Press

Cover art:

Annelisa Hermosilla


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