END OF AUGUST de Paige Dinneny

Aurora Taylor has never had so much to lose.

by Paige Dinneny

Alcove Press, February 2025

It’s almost summer in 1979, and 15-year-old Aurora Taylor is a week shy of finishing her first full year at the same school. She’s desperate to see it through, because every end to her single mother’s chaotic romantic relationships results in a disruptive and sudden move. So many moves that Aurora needs more than two hands to count all the towns she’s lived in and the friendships she never got a chance to make.

So when her mother Laine shows up at school with the car loaded, Aurora thinks her latest fling finally put a nail in this town’s coffin. Instead, it’s her grandpa Jay’s death calling them back to the town Laine’s been running from since Aurora’s conception, when Laine was just fifteen and Aurora’s Gran was the town drunk.

Between her mother and Gran’s explosive relationship, and the whiskey Gran’s returned to to drown her sorrows, Aurora gives their visit to the little blue house in Monroe, Illinois a week, tops. But when Laine begins an intense affair with the married mailman, everything changes. For the first time in her 15 years, Aurora has time to fall in love too—but this time with the town. It’s not unlike most of the small towns in Indiana Aurora has lived in, suffocating summer heat included, but this one has streets and people and places she is given a chance to know and love. It has a girl Aurora can call her best friend. A Gran who loves Aurora even as she fights for control over her own worst nature for the third time in her life. And a picture-perfect pastor’s son who sees Aurora as more than “Laine’s daughter.” It’s everything Aurora never thought she would have to lose. It’s everything she would never let herself dream about.

But each time the illicit lovebirds slip into the back bedroom, Aurora sees her chances at happiness slipping away. Laine won’t just burn a bridge this time, she’ll light the town on fire, burning Gran’s hope, Aurora’s future, and her own chance at redemption to the ground with it.

Paige Dinneny earned her MFA from Cal State Long Beach and writes primarily about the relationships between mothers and daughters. She was born and raised in Southern California, but now resides in Franklin, Tennessee with her sister and two cats. She briefly taught academically, but much prefers interacting with people as a retail store manager.

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