mary king writer maryannaking mary anna king writer

We all make this face (fig. 1) in pictures more frequently than we smile in them. Smiles can so easily go from beguiling to stressed, strained, and uncomfortable; if one is going to smile in a photo, one better be supremely happy. The Kissy-fish-face is pretty much impervious to this pitfall. Though sometimes the kissy-fish-face can make one appear drunk. (Sometimes one is drunk when doing the kissy-fish-face.)

At it’s core, Bastards is a love story about the most absurd, primal, inescapable relationship 80% of us will ever have; the relationship we have with our siblings.

It is the true story of how my six biological siblings and I were adopted by five different families, grew up in homes from Oklahoma City to the Jersey Shore, and eventually found one another again.

Coming to a bookseller near you from W.W. Norton and Co. in June of 2015…

Order on:

book cover


Barnes & Noble



Apple iBooks

Or for signed copies: Skylight Books (note in the ‘Order Comments’ field that you would like the book signed as well as who to make it out to!)

What people are saying about Bastards:


New York Times Book Review: Shortlist


The Boston Globe

The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Literary Mama

“Mary King’s Bastards is a stirring, vividly told story of a fractured childhood and young girl’s and then young woman’s quest to find the family she lost, including her adopted siblings to whom she feels forever connected. Her prose moves with lyrical wit and cultural texture as she persists with all of her protean self to figure out the nature of family and the deepest human connections amidst trauma and confusion. Bastards is an impressive debut.”— Peter Balakian ( PEN award-winning author of Black Dog of Fate)

“Is it OK to repeatedly burst out laughing in the middle of a crowded coffeehouse before explaining to fellow customers, “It’s this hilarious new book about a crazy family that gave away their children the way other families send out Christmas cards?”  If not, I apologize for all the interrupted coffee breaks and lift my cup to Mary King and her glorious Bastards, a rib-tickling, yet deeply moving debut memoir.  Only a writer with King’s keen eye, expert storytelling skills, and from-the-heart honesty can turn a childhood this deficient into a book so rich.” — Franz Wisner (New York Times bestselling author of Honeymoon with My Brother and How the World Makes Love)

 “As I read Mary King’s extraordinary memoir, BASTARDS, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Mary Karr’s THE LIARS CLUB. King has the same unflinching eye turned on her family, the same ability to inhabit her child self while trying to make sense of her world. At turns funny and heartbreaking, BASTARDS never fails to surprise, impress, and ultimately dazzle the reader with its insights and King’s fine writing.” — Ann Hood (author of The Red Thread)

“This searing book explores how identity forms love, and love, identity.  Written in engrossing, intimate prose, it makes us rethink how blood’s deep connections relate to the attachments of proximity.  ” — Andrew Solomon (National Book Award winning author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression and Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity

“In Bastards, Mary Anna King offers a moving portrait of the struggle to create a family out of little more than the imagination. In scene by finely wrought scene, punctuated by bursts of lyric intensity and hard-won humor, King reminds us that a good story is not in the ending but in the questions, that in this life the only resolution we get, sometimes, is acceptance, and that this can be enough.” — Nick Flynn (author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City and The Ticking is the Bomb)

“Mary Anna King’s BASTARDS is funny and wise and very entertaining.  If you think you had a weird childhood, well, King’s book will put that right into perspective.  At the same time even readers who are cynical on the subject of Family will be persuaded, somewhat, that in the last analysis it’s a good thing.” — Blake Bailey (National Book Critics Circle Award nominated author of The Splendid Things We Planned

“I don’t fully agree with Leo Tolstoy’s famous opening line in Anna Karenina: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” To me, another sentence from that book rings truer, that “there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.” Bastards, Mary Anna King’s heart-breaking and heart-mending debut memoir, is about the many kinds of love that can exist within a family—a biological family, a family as defined by legal documents, a family lost, a family found. King’s ability to look unflinchingly at loss and pain, as well as unbridled joy, unexpected kindness, and sudden connection is remarkable. Her skill in dramatizing those emotions with honestly, compassion, nuance, and humor is what makes her the real deal. Bastards is a testament to the fact that everything in life that matters resists ready definitions and final conclusions, and it signals the arrival of a truly singular new voice. — Kseniya Melnik (author of Snow in May)

“It’s a real, live BOOK. This is an actual BOOK, a whole Book. I love books.” –– Kimberly Condict

One thought on “Bastards

  1. Pingback: True #adoption story… Mary Anna King #adoptionstories | Adoption Stories

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