The celebrated author of I Was Amelia Earhart brings us a brilliant, kaleidoscopic story of human connection that soars with imagination, spirit, and Mendelsohn’s distinctive mesmerizing style.

Honor is a physical therapist with a mysterious patient in Milo, the Iraq war veteran whose destroyed back is the only testament to his emotional scars. When Honor touches him, she and Milo are overwhelmed by startling visions of the past: Of 1930s New York, where a young marriage is tested by the arrival of an intriguing cousin; of a female photographer whose life’s work is irrevocably stolen; of a young mother determined to make it on her own; and of 17th-century Turkey, where the forbidden love affair of a eunuch and the sultan’s concubine threatens a tragic end. As the stories converge in a crescendo of revelations, they bring Honor and Milo closer to healing and understanding. A breathtaking mystery and meditation on love—its power and its limitations—American Musicis a compassionate and wondrous novel.


“Redefines the genre…. Exacting, moving, devastating, American Music is a story told in dazzling images…. How can something so slim cover so much ground? This breadth is achieved through a series of haunting impressions  that trace the story of a family, the history of 20th-century America, and the evolution of American music . . .  Although we meet these characters  hastily, we come to know them well. It is a testament to Mendelsohn’s skill that she can decode a lifetime in an image.”
—Jennifer Gilmore, The New York Times Book Review
“Unpretentious, moving, intelligent, and fresh . . . An inventive, passionate, pithy novel whose major theme is love itself and whose minor theme, music, is an emotional, meaningful counterpoint.  Like Count Basie and His Orchestra, this book swings.”
—Kate Christensen, Elle Magazine lead review

“Stories appear in all their glorious detail—bits of sparkling fabric, pieces of song, a whirling dance, a white sky and a black sea.   Jane Mendelsohn captures them as you might in the glare of an old-fashioned light bulb . .  . Milo and Honor fall in love.    Love is the mirage they step into, leaving behind all kinds of wounds and stories.  It is an aleph of a novel, a keyhole one looks into and cannot pull away from.”
—Susan Salter Reynolds, The Los Angeles Times

“A novel about the power of stories… What a captivating storyteller Mendelsohn can be. She’s remarkably good at setting scenes quickly and evocatively, raising up characters we care about immediately and drawing us into their conflicts…. A romantic story of romantic stories, full of love and longing, despair and loneliness, and one woman’s connection to all of them…. [Mendelsohn] writes the kind of lovely, wise phrases that will have you underlining passages.”
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post 

“Luminous . . . [a] relationship between a wounded Iraq War veteran and his physical therapist releases a torrent of memories, dreams, and alternate lives . . . a magically consoling reminder that beneath the starkest cases of wounding and healing is the music of love lost and found.”

“In her exquisite, psychologically fluent novels, the actual and imagined merge as Mendelsohn tests the power of stories to define, guide, and sometimes destroy us. Her third novel is an intricate puzzle of haunting, far-reaching, secretly connected love stories. . . Each milieu is sensuously rendered, while music, especially jazz, serves as the unifying force, and the key to surviving epic desire and loss.”
—Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review) 

“Jane Mendelsohn’s American Music, a beautiful, bittersweet novel…. More characters mysteriously emerge: a jazz lover choosing between two women; a sultan’s concubine falling for her guard. Honor’s touch, meant to heal Milo, frees the stories locked within him. As the two try to understand these images, they discover that what we keep inside has the power to break us — but also to break us open.”
O, The Oprah Magazine

“Beautifully rendered…. [Joe, Pearl, and Vivian’s] story is a heartbreaker, stark in its reality…. Powerful… Hard to forget.”
The Providence Journal

“As in her earlier novel, I Was Amelia Earhart, Jane Mendelsohn proves a master of historical context: American history itself is as much a character as those who live and die through it.”
The Courier (Charleston)

“There are hidden universes within us, Jane Mendelsohn tells us in her strange and bittersweet story about fate and love. How we fit into the rhythm of such places and how we allow our pasts to shape the present, are the intriguing themes of her haunting new book.”
The Miami Herald 

“Jane Mendelsohn has produced a taut, sui generis story that should be a major contender for novel of the year… Brilliant, stunning and divinely thought-provoking.”
Sacramento Book Review

“’A soldier’s body is a work of art that contains his country’s history.’” So thinks the heroine of this luminous novel, a physical therapist named Honor….. Intricately plotted and affectingly written, American Music … [is] a piercing, magical revelation about the capricious power of disclosed truths to lift us up or take us down.”
—Boston Globe

“Haunting, mystical and beautiful, American Music is written in a uniquely creative style gar poignantly and powerfully touches the reader contemplating the gift of music in an American period of history yearning for recovery and renewal.”
Historical Novels Review

“Like Honor and Milo, the reader is eager to find out what happens and how these seemingly unrelated stories connect. This intriguing book will be particularly appealing to readers with vivid imaginations who are open to a more innovative narrative style.”
Library Journal

American Music is like Gabriel Garcia Marquez meets the very best parts of The Time Traveler’s Wife, and for readers who savor language and enjoy surrealism, it doesn’t get much better. 5 out of 5.”
—The Book Lady’s Blog


No Comments on INNOCENCE

Innocence is a modern gothic coming-of-age story, a devastating X-ray of American culture, and a piercing exploration of a teenage girl growing up in New York City. Narrated with incisive wit by fourteen-year-old Becket, the novel traces her relationship with her widowed father, her encounters with the intimidating Beautiful Girls at school, her attraction to the mysterious and dangerous school nurse, her attachment to the raffish Tobey, and a series of devastating nightmares that threaten Becket’s life as she moves from girl to woman.

Mendelsohn has written an allegory about the precarious state of the American teenager in a culture that sucks the life force out of its young, who are nurtured by the movies and fantasy and narcissism rather than by values such as honesty and love. This is a world as startlingly original and hauntingly familiar as our dreams, where the line between fantasy and reality, between sanity and insanity, is razor-thin. Playful, frightening, profound, and gripping, Innocence is the rare thing – a page turner with the depth of poetry and the immediacy of cinema.


“Innocence is a kind of Rosemary’s Baby channeled through J.D. Salinger….It’s a graceful, delusionary teenage thriller unusually in touch with young character’s emotional workings, and, at the same time, a book by someone who clearly understands the tricks that make Stephen King’s pages turn.”
—Dennis Cooper, The Village Voice

“Sexy, sinister magic . . .this dark and gothically twisted novel gives us the city as a wicked stepmother’s poisonous fruit, its beauty baneful, its sweetness deadly . . . Mendelsohn’s genius lies in her ability to keep both the fantastical and the ordinary in focus at the same time. . . a brilliant balancing act, a truly thrilling read…. Remarkable.”

‘Jane Mendelsohn plays it fast and loose with reality . . . Innocence is fast-edged and jagged . . . daring and beautiful language. . . an important book.”
— The Oregonian

“Combining a savvy intelligence with lyrical prose . . .Mendelsohn has concocted a coming-of-age tale about a Manhattan girl’s adolescence; this is the story of innocence, all right, but that nebulous concept today means finding your way in a media-saturated, sometimes dangerous culture.”
USA Today

“Invoking a battery of analogues favoring the pop-culture heroines of Alice in WonderlandThe Wizard of Oz, Lolita, and Halloween, Mendelsohn isolates her plucky heroine so fearfully via sparse paragraphs and an underpeopled world that even the most preposterous threats leap out of the movie frame to fuel a shriek of pure paranoia. Must reading for anybody who thinks teenagers today have gotten bloated with entitlement: a scarlet will-o’-the-wisp fantasy in which adults and adulthood aren’t stupid stiffs but agents of unimaginable evil.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A brilliant gothic tale… Mendelsohn’s novel is a harrowing cry of anguish, the siren song of a generation that believes contiunuing to live beyond one’s teens is a matter of ambiguous choice.”
The Baltimore Sun

“Laconic and edgy and begrudgingly tragic…the novel is onto itself as well as the formulas it exposes, offering a darkly appealing glance at popular culture and modern urban mayhem. Like Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides and Jay McInerny’s Bright Lights, Big City, Mendelsohn’s story muffles its death and sorrow in terminal irony, though the trait is less irritating than it might be because Innocence doesn’t try to be more than it is.”
The Boston Sunday Globe

“Mendelsohn [is] an exquisite crafter of prose…. Brilliant…is not too strong a word to describe what Mendelsohn has done…. Her novel will hold you spellbound.”
Newark Sunday Star-Ledger

“Mendelsohn is a smart, clever writer who has created a…novel that rivets with well-paced scenes, lyrical prose, and moments of profound insight. By playing with the worst stereotypes about women and giving eloquent nod to her cinematic forebears, Mendelsohn gives voice and image to a new generation’s female howl.”
The Providence Sunday Journal

“Innocence is an engrossing, and disturbing, account of its protagonist’s quest to uncover the truth about herself and the world around her.”
The Denver Post

“[Mendelsohn] cooks up a stew of paranoia and gothic fantasy that makes for a surprisingly unique mystery novel. Told in spare, melodramatic vignettes, the book has elements of both an epic poem and a horror-film screenplay…”
—Janet Steen, Time Out New York



In this brilliantly imagined novel, Amelia Earhart tells us what happened after she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared off the coast of New Guinea one glorious, windy day in 1937. And she tells us about herself.

There is her love affair with flying (“The sky is flesh”) . . . .

There are her memories of the past: her childhood desire to become a heroine (“Heroines did what they wanted”) . . . her marriage to G.P. Putnam, who promoted her to fame, but was willing to gamble her life so that the book she was writing about her round-the-world flight would sell out before Christmas.

There is the flight itself — day after magnificent or perilous or exhilarating or terrifying day (“Noonan once said any fool could have seen I was risking my life but not living it”).

And there is, miraculously, an island (“We named it Heaven, as a kind of joke”).

And, most important, there is Noonan . . .


“In this lyrical first novel…Ms. Mendelsohn has chosen to use the bare-boned outlines of the aviator’s life as an armature for a poetic meditation on freedom and love and flight…. She manages to make this highly whimsical story feel oddly convincing…. She does not try to pass her story off as history, but rather imaginatively transfigures her material. The resulting novel, like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s General in His Labyrinth or Larry McMurtry’s Anything for Billy, invokes the spirit of a mythic personage, while standing on its own as a powerfully imagined work of fiction. Ms. Mendelsohn invests her story with force of fable.“
—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

“[The book] appears like a flash of silver in the leaden skies of contemporary fiction. It is a haunting and delicate piece of guesswork…. Mendelsohn is the sort of writer who takes the oyster as her world rather than the other way around: her book outlines a small space for itself to inhabit and then goes about filling in this space with shadowy patches, daubs of bright color, and areas that seem to be the prose equivalent of white paint. Her novel is, indeed, drenched in visual effects…. Its quiet air of astonishment lends the shine of newness to everything it touches..” 
—Daphne Merkin, The New Yorker

“Not to be missed. It is an immediately addicting book, as telegraphic as those of Margaret Duras, and as charged with longing.” 
— Liesl Schillinger, Harper’s Bazaar

“Brilliantly evokes an imagined destiny.”
USA Today
“Insinuating and even addictive… a vehicle for dreaming.”
Village Voice
“A great read….The book does spirit you aloft. It brings Amelia Earhart to life, more than any straight biography ever could.”
—Katherine Whittamore , Salon 

“… unfolds with the surreal precision of a dream and that marks first novelist Mendelsohn as a writer to watch…. calculatedly lovely and moving ”
School Library Journal

“Mendelsohn [is] an exquisite crafter of prose…. Brilliant…is not too strong a word to describe what Mendelsohn has done…. Her novel will hold you spellbound.”
Newark Sunday Star-Ledger

“Fascinating… The prose soars with lightness and imagination.”
Winston-Salem Journal

“A tantalizing fictional biography of Amelia Earhart… slim and idiosyncratic as its heroine…. The pleasures of reading this book are many.”
 Philadelphia Inquirer

“Lush [and] mesmerizing… Mendelsohn gives us not so much a stream of consciousness as a stream of dreamlike images to float on.”
Hartford Courant

“Reads like a kind of dream…. Mendelsohn delivers a fantasy from deep within Earhart’s consciousness.”
—Denver Post

“Sparely written, almost visionary… a paean to the ultimate escape.”
The Christian Science Monitor

“Elegant and sensuously beautiful… A psychologically rich portrait of a highly unusual woman.”

“Strange, slight, but wonderful: a modest portrait that manages to create moments of exceptional intensity and power of feeling.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Mendelsohn’s rhapsodic language and shimmering, dream-like imagery will carry readers along on her voyage into the many mysteries this work contains… A sensual, intoxicating experience.”
—Louisville Courier-Journal

“Compelling. You can’t help admiring the boldness of a writer who would make fiction of a legend.”
—New York Times Book Review

“Vividly imagined and complex… a soaring prose meditation.”
—Chicago Tribune

“Exciting… It’s testimony to the power of the Earhart myth, and to Mendelsohn’s sparkling prose, that the reader is quickly enraptured…. This is entertainment of a high order.”
—Lexington Herald-Leader