Rachel Harper—This Side of Providence—at Vroman’s

Apr 4, 2016

OldLinevilleWaterTowerWe met novelist, essayist, poet, and teacher Rachel Harper in January 2013 at a party for Prospect Park Books’ authors. She was an interesting woman with whom it was easy to talk, so we didn’t hesitate too much before we asked if she would contribute to Hometown Pasadena’s “Write Here” category for poetry and short works. The happy ending? Being able to share Harper’s “The Black Pickup” with HP readers.

Now PPB has published Harper’s novel This Side of Providence. We’ve only just begun, with only seventeen pages read, but oh, it was hard to close the book and get back to work. Here are the opening lines…

Before they knock down the door, I run. I’m wearing flipflops, men’s pajamas, and a tank top with no bra. My sunglasses on top of my head. I grab my baby and tuck her under my arm like a purse. She’s one of the few things I own, and unlike everything else in my possession, I never lost or broker her.

Chapter two…

My name is Cristoval Luna Perez, but everybody calls me Cristo for short. In case you don’t speak Spanish that means Christ. Sometimes it makes me feel special, but most of the time I think it’s just my name. I’m supposed to be Catholic, just because I’m Puerto Rican, but I don’t believe in God. I don’t really believe in anything I can’t see, which means I don’t believe in Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, or my father.

And how about this…

Author Alice Walker: “It is a book of such power that it is as if a completely new layer of the American experience has been exposed to our view… not one line is wasted and every single word rings true.”

If all of this has snatched your interest as it did ours, Harper is discusses and signs This Side of Providence on April 12 at 7 p.m. Vroman’s Bookstore, 693 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena 91101.

This is a free event. For complete details visit




Rachel Harper is the author of two novels, Brass Ankle Blues and This Side of Providence, and several screenplays. She has received fellowships from the Corporation of Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the R.I. State Council on the Arts. Harper is on the faculty at Spalding University’s brief-residency MFA in Writing Program.








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