STRAY CITY: A NOVEL
A warm, funny, and whip-smart debut novel about rebellious youth, inconceivable parenthood, and the complications of belonging—to a city, a culture, and a family—when none of them can quite contain who you really are.
All of us were refugees of the nuclear family . . .
Twenty-four-year-old artist Andrea Morales escaped her Midwestern Catholic childhood—and the closet—to create a home and life for herself within the thriving but insular queer underground of Portland, Oregon. But one drunken night, reeling from a bad breakup and a friend’s betrayal, she recklessly crosses enemy lines and hooks up with a man. To her shock, Andrea soon discovers she’s pregnant. Mayhem ensues.
A decade later, when her precocious daughter Lucia starts to uncover clues about the father she’s never known, Andrea is forced to reconcile the past she hoped to leave behind with the life she’s worked so hard to build.
A thoroughly modern and original anti-romantic comedy, Stray City is an unabashedly entertaining literary debut about the families we’re born into and the families we choose, the complexity of identity, finding yourself by breaking the rules, and making bad decisions for all the right reasons.
Stray City has it all. As funny as it is moving; as joyful, as radically communal, as it is lonesome, the novel covers the varied complications of place, home, sex, city—but mostly it's about the necessary and unexpected revolutions of the self, and about how queerly we make our way through this world. Honestly, one of the most absorbing, finely-tuned books I’ve had the pleasure of falling down into. Chelsey Johnson is a wonder.
—Justin Torres, bestselling author of We the Animals
Written with wit and sensitivity and exquisite emotional intelligence, Stray City is an absolute pleasure to read. Chelsey Johnson is one of the most refreshing new voices in literature.
—Jami Attenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Middlesteins and All Grown Up
A winsome novel about love and belonging—and the possibility of discovering both in the most unlikely of places, and among the most unexpected people. Tender and smart, Stray City is a fantastic debut from a huge talent.
—Cristina Henríquez, bestselling author of The Book of Unknown Americans
A love letter to Portland and to the youthful effort of world-making that created its important queer culture in the '90s, Stray City is a gorgeous, funny, sharply spot-on tale of growing up and making family again and again and again.
—Michelle Tea, award-winning author of Valencia and Black Wave
Insightful and brilliant, Stray City explores the stickiness of doing what’s expected and the strange freedom born of contradiction. I tore through this novel like an orphaned reader seeking a home in the ragtag yet shimmering world that Chelsey Johnson so wondrously brings to life.
—Carrie Brownstein, New York Times-bestselling author of Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl