The Funeral Ladies of Ellerie County: A Novel (Paperback)
Armed with a Crock-Pot and a pile of recipes, a grandmother, her granddaughter, and a mysterious young man work to bring a community together in this uplifting novel for readers of The Chicken Sisters.
Esther Larson has been cooking for funerals in the Northwoods of Wisconsin for seventy years. Known locally as the “funeral ladies,” she and her cohort have worked hard to keep the mourners of Ellerie County fed—it is her firm belief that there is very little a warm casserole and a piece of cherry pie can’t fix. But, after falling for an internet scam that puts her home at risk, the proud Larson family matriarch is the one in need of help these days.
Iris, Esther’s whip-smart Gen Z granddaughter, would do anything for her family and her community. As she watches her friends and family move out of their lakeside town onto bigger and better things, Iris wonders why she feels so left behind in the place she is desperate to make her home. But when Cooper Welsh shows up, she finally starts to feel like she’s found the missing piece of her puzzle.
Cooper is dealing with becoming a legal guardian to his younger half-sister after his beloved stepmother dies. While their celebrity-chef father is focused on his booming career and top-ranked television show, Cooper is still hurting from a public tragedy he witnessed last year as a paramedic and finding it hard to cope. With Iris in the gorgeous Ellerie County, though, he hopes he might finally find the home he’s been looking for.
It doesn’t seem like a community cookbook could possibly solve their problems, especially one where casseroles have their own section and cream of chicken soup mix is the most frequently used ingredient. But when you mix the can-do spirit of Midwestern grandmothers with the stubborn hope of a boy raised by food plus a dash of long-awaited forgiveness—things might just turn out okay.
About the Author
Claire Swinarski is the author of multiple books for both kids and adults. Her writing has been featured in the Washington Post, Seventeen, Milwaukee magazine, and many other publications. She lives in small-town Wisconsin with her husband and three kids, where she writes books, wears babies, and wrangles bread dough.
“In a quietly suspenseful book, Swinarski shows how frequently written-off behavior can constitute sexual harassment, and how individuals can create change by having the courage to question the narrative.”
— Publisher's Weekly on What Happened to Rachel Riley
"This messy middle-school drama shines a light on what it means to develop identity. Illuminating."
— Kirkus Reviews on The Kate In Between
"Well written and on point, Swinarski’s middle-grade take on the mean-girls novel will resonate with readers looking for a realistic story that doesn’t gloss over choices or consequences, giving them complex ideas to contemplate."
— Booklist on The Kate In Between
"The Kate In Between is a perfect portrayal of the middle school struggle to fit in and find one's true self. Kate's voice had me hooked from the first page. Outstanding!" — Lisa Greenwald, author of the Friendship List series
“What Happened to Rachel Riley has every single thing a middle grade reader could want: a twisty mystery; relatable, authentic teen characters; and the kind of demonstrated courage that seeps into our souls and leaves us feeling brave. This book is going to change lives.”
— Carrie Firestone, author of Dress Coded
"An engaging and inspiring novel about standing up for what’s right, being your authentic self, and finding the strength to use your voice." — Lynne Kelly, author of Song For a Whale
"What begins as a look into bullying and the social politics of middle school expands into a revealing study of sexual harassment. An empowering and empathetic companion to Barbara Dee's Maybe He Just Likes You and Brigit Young's The Prettiest." — Booklist (starred review)
“Well drawn. A promising debut novel.”