Marina Salles’s life does not end the day she wakes up dead.
Instead, in the course of a moment, she is transformed into the stuff of myth, the stuff of her grandmother’s old Filipino stories—an aswang, a creature of mystery and vengeance. She spent her time on earth on the margins; shot like a pinball through a childhood of loss, she was a veteran of Child Protective Services and a survivor, but always reacting, watching from a distance, understanding very little of her own life, let alone the lives of others. Death brings her into the hearts and minds of those she has known—even her killer—as she accesses their memories and sees anew the meaning of her own. In her nine days as an aswang, while she considers whether to exact vengeance on her killer, she also traces back, finally able to see what led these two lost souls to a crushingly inevitable conclusion.
In A Tiny Upward Shove, the debut novelist Melissa Chadburn charts the heartbreaking journeys of two of society’s castoffs as they make their way to each other and their roles as criminal and victim. What does it mean to be on the brink? When are those moments that change not only our lives but our very selves? And how, in this impossible world, full of cruelty and negligence, can we rouse ourselves toward mercy?
“[A Tiny Upward Shove] shocks, but always to a purpose.”—Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times
“Original, heartbreaking.”—Tomi Obaro, Buzzfeed
“Electrifying . . . Writing with remarkable grace, even surprising moments of transporting joy, Chadburn creates a miraculous literary platform to claim these [missing and murdered women’s] stories . . . [A] sensational, terrifying debut.”—Terry Hong, Shelf Awareness
“A Tiny Upward Shove is gloriously voiced, the kind of addictive and headlong novel that makes reading into a wild bronco ride. Melissa Chadburn has it, the spark; her first novel is strange and tender and not to be missed.”—Lauren Groff, author of Matrix
“Every line carries music, emotional weight, philosophical insight, and punk rock glory.”—Amber Dermont, author of Damage Control
“A beautiful and brave novel about powerlessness, longing, and that universal, unavoidable desire to be loved. Let this book happen to you.”—Edan Lepucki, author of If You’re Not Yet Like Me
“A novel that grabs your attention and won’t let it go—fueled by a wild, jagged energy and an exuberant mixing of cultures and a narrator whose frank, poignant voice will keep echoing in your head.”—Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of Likes
“In its verve, vibrancy, and sheer reckless energy, Chadburn’s writing recalls a number of wonders: Ondaatje’s Running in the Family, say, or Kincaid’s At the Bottom of the River. Chadburn’s vision, however, her intelligence and empathy, are entirely her own.”—Matthew Specktor, author of American Dream Machine
“An engrossingly raw but tenderly vulnerable voice. Chadburn brings to vivid life a character stained by cruelty, but who has the last word.”—Lisa Ling, coauthor of Somewhere Inside
“A fiercely original, brave writer. Chadburn finds the lyrical and the deeply human in seemingly dark and impenetrable landscapes.”—Héctor Tobar, author of The Last Great Road Bum
“A writer who can make the language sing and bleed.”—Steve Almond, author of The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories
“A mesmerizing work in which beauty and ugliness and realism and mythology coexist. Chadburn is an emerging literary force.”—Jaquira Díaz, author of Ordinary Girls
“Gorgeous, wrecking. I could not look away. Her telling held me captive and reminded me that art is its own kind of mercy.”—Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood
“A knife pressed to the throat of secrecy. There is no other debut novelist whose work I’m more excited to share with everyone in the world.”—Kyle Minor, author of Praying Drunk
“An astonishing story about what makes us human and bound to each other. More books should be written like this: fiercely, without apology, and with devastating honesty.”—Dana Johnson, author of Elsewhere, California
“An extraordinary book with surprising turns and fierce momentum. This book is alive, and you can feel its heart beating; when you read its pages, I promise you will feel its life rush through you.”—Jennifer Percy, author of Demon Camp
“Brave, fierce, and smart, A Tiny Upward Shove announces an exciting new voice in fiction.”—Rob Spillman, author of All Tomorrow’s Parties
“Melissa Chadburn gives words to a life’s sorrow, breathing into a life’s pain what novels provide—detailed and observant empathy.”—Gina Apostol, author of Gun Dealers’ Daughter
“Chadburn leans into the center of a bad dream. Go with her. Keep going.”—Sia
“Engaging and heartbreaking . . . A dark, powerful novel.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Chadburn’s debut novel is a magical realism-infused literary feast . . . Her novel deftly captures poverty and victimization of youth in vivid and heartbreaking scenarios . . . Indelible and devastating . . . A haunting tale of grit and fate.”—Adrienne Cruz, Booklist (starred review)
“[An] astonishing debut . . . [Chadburn’s] poetic language enthralls . . . Electrifying.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Reviews from Goodreads
TINIKLING—DOUBLE DUTCH FILIPINX STYLE
Don’t believe anyone who tells you that death comes quick and painless. That’s bullshit. Dying hurts like fuck-all everything; you can feel all the pains, the hurts, the joys, the...