The Remnants of Summer

Iris is sinking. As the summer of 1974 begins, she must grapple with the events that have lain dormant since the previous summer when her brother, Scott, drowned in their neighborhood lake. On her watch.
While Iris flounders with the weight of her guilt and grief, she seeks redemption from her family and yearns, in particular, to repair a strained relationship with her sister, Liz. But new developments threaten her efforts, forcing her to navigate the turbulence of the present summer while reckoning with the emotional trauma of the past.
Set in a working-class neighborhood, The Remnants of Summer is a story of how collective grief and personal guilt threaten the individuals who make up a family. As Iris sifts through the images of the past, she wrestles with waves of guilt and responsibility, acceptance and forgiveness. Surrounded by the gentle rhythms of a Michigan summer, she endeavors to rise up and become visible once again.

Advanced Praise

In this atmospheric coming of age novel, Newton explores how an unexpected death is not just an event, but a change of climate. Or it is a body of water in which family and friends are now floating unmoored, rocked by waves of heartache, guilt, and the many other forms of grief. The Michigan childhood of beaches, bicycles, and babysitting as a backdrop for loss is beautifully, achingly rendered.

-Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Q Road, American Salvage,
a National Book Award Finalist, and Once Upon a River, now a motion picture

Set in a moment in American life as fleeting and moving as a perfect June day, THE REMNANTS OF SUMMER is a tender story of grief, guilt, and growing up. Dawn Newton’s novel exposes the pain in one 1970s lakefront community then digs deeper to show the strength underneath. 

-Julia Phillips, author of Disappearing Earth, a National Book Award Finalist and New York Times Top Ten Book of 2019

Winded: A Memoir in Four Stages

When Dawn Newton, an adjunct professor and mother of three, gets a terminal lung cancer diagnosis, the path forward appears rutted. The Great Recession has left her exhausted and juggling multiple jobs. Then she learns of her cancer’s mutation. She can take a pill each day to live longer.

Fifteen months into survival, she feels overwhelmed by the effort of staying alive. She longs to embrace moments and display gratitude yet can’t find words to articulate her needs. Regardless of any control she exerts over her body’s frailties, her emotional life asserts its own disruptive trajectory. Even as she labors to anchor herself to the love of family, she faces a blasphemous question: “If no cure is available, and death lurks around the next corner, is more time really worth it?”

In Winded, Newton describes life with terminal disease, exploring dark crevices of the psyche as she tries to assess the value of a life. The final lessons she imparts to her family may not be about resilience but about illuminating vulnerability and embracing the imperfect.


New York Journal of Books

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