A haunting, provocative novel, YOU FEEL IT JUST BELOW THE RIBS is a fictional autobiography in an alternate twentieth century that chronicles one woman’s unusual life, including the price she pays to survive and the cost her choices hold for the society she is trying to save.
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Jeffrey Cranor is the New York Times bestselling co-author with Joseph Fink of three novels set within the world of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. Janina Matthewson’s book, Of Things Gone Astray, was a bookseller favorite and was nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award. Together they create the wildly popular immersive fiction experience podcast Within the Wires, which has inspired this novel.
A manuscript is discovered under the floorboards of an attic room in Stockholm, containing the life story of Dr. Miriam Gregory. It speaks of growing up during The Great Reckoning, a sprawling, decades-long war that nearly decimates humanity and strips her of friends and family. Devastated by grief and loneliness, she emotionally exiles herself, avoiding relationships or allegiances, and throws herself into her work—disengagement that serves her when the war finally ends, and The New Society arises in its wake. To ensure a lasting peace, The New Society forbids tribal loyalties, including traditional families. A prominent psychologist and researcher at heart, Miriam is tasked with leading this detachment process.
But the bold claims the manuscript makes cannot be corroborated, raising disturbing questions about their very authenticity. An unnamed editor adds context to the text through an introduction, epilogue, and footnotes throughout, casting doubt on Miriam’s account. Is this autobiography a sincere confession or is it a fabrication, set against the backdrop of reality? The reader is left to decipher what’s “real” and who’s “right.”
While this book takes place in a twentieth century alternate history, the story involves topical themes like the tension between security and freedom, acts of government removing children from their families, and consequences of whistleblowing. It presents a disturbing alternate world eerily within reach and examines the difficult choices necessary to survive within it.
Jeffrey Cranor is the co-author with Joseph Fink of the New York Times bestselling novels Welcome to Night Vale, It Devours!, and The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home. With Fink, he is the cowriter and producer of the Welcome to Night Vale Podcast, with over 300 million downloads in its 9-year run, and the lead podcast in the Night Vale Presents podcast network: http://www.nightvalepresents.
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