A Novel

Paulette Boudreaux

Trust me. This is one book you have never read before—fierce and honest, with a brave little heroine who'll steal your heart. The most memorable and surely the scariest coming of age story I have read in years. Faulknerian in its themes of place and the past, Dickensian in its scope and widely varied cast of characters with nary a stereotype among them, MULBERRY moves from heart-stopping to heart-wrenching to, finally, heart-warming. The extravagantly talented and deeply compassionate Paulette Boudreaux has written a wonderful novel. —Lee Smith, author of Dimestore: A Writer's Life, Guests on Earth, and The Last Girls

Mulberry is a charmer and a heart-breaker, too.  This soaring coming of age story proves what the old folks say: the truth really does set us free.  Paulette Boudreaux is an exciting new voice in southern literature and I can't wait to see what she does next. —Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow and Leaving Atlanta

Maddy Culpepper is literary cousin to Ellen Foster, unpacking her “collection of little lessons in grief” with heart, pluck, and the sharp-eyed wisdom of innocence. —Kim Church, author of Byrd

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I finished Mulberry yesterday and was as amazed by it as I had sensed I would be. Maddy just came alive, as did her whole family. Not only could I see the boys, I wanted to hold and comfort them. The parents were all too human, and the intimate description of their struggles allowed me to feel compassion for them - which might have been hard to come by after the children suffered so...Mulberry so deserved the Lee Smith Novel Prize…Congratulations on a wonderful book. —Kathleen Grisson, author of Glory Over Everything and The Kitchen House

Mulberry, is really good and grabbed me on page 1. It’s that rare combination of literary but very readable (kind of like Pat Conroy). And her writing is extremely visual…The other impressive element of Mulberry come from something Barry Eisler said at his launch. This really stuck with me. He said that he “gets to know” his character before he worries about the plot details…Paulette obviously worked on getting to know her characters because I connected to all of them…I highly recommend that you read Mulberry…” —Lloyd Russell, The Book Sage

Mulberry is a gripping and beautifully written tale of family crisis and personal strength that focuses on Maddy, an eleven-year-old girl struggling to keep herself and her three younger brothers, afloat in small-town segregated Mississippi in the early 1960s. After Maddy’s newborn baby sister falls ill and her mother decides she must accompany the baby to the far-away state hospital, Maddy finds herself in charge of her brothers as it becomes apparent that their combat veteran father is not up to the task. Despite having to navigate the challenges of the grown-up world under her father’s increasing neglect, Maddy is able to find strength, wisdom, and, eventually, hope for a better future.


Paulette Boudreaux is a Mississippi native now living in Los Gatos, California. She teaches English at West Valley College and has published her work in national and international literary journals. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and a master’s in fine arts degree from Mills College.