Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday Freebie: Daredevils by Shawn Vestal

Congratulations to Rhonda Lomazow, Lori Benedetto, Michael Cooper, and Lisa Murray, the winners of last week’s Friday Freebie contest: Maisie at 8000 Feet by Frederick Reuss.

I’m thrilled to announce this week’s book giveaway is Daredevils by Shawn Vestal (author of Godforsaken Idaho). On a personal note, I frickin’ loved this novel set in the American West in the 1970s. It’s about love, the longing to break free from the confines of family and religion, and the risky chances one takes to earn that freedom. Woven throughout Vestal’s debut novel is the unforgettable voice of Mr. Daredevil himself, Evel Knievel. I highlighted one of those passages in an earlier Sunday Sentence here at the blog. I hope you’ll all enter this giveawayit’s a simple link-click, easier than jumping a motorcycle over a line of 40 busesbut even if you don’t win the contest, I urge you to get your hands on a copy of Daredevils and read it for yourself.

And now, a word from the publisher about the contents of the book...

At the heart of this exciting debut novel, set in Arizona and Idaho in the mid-1970s, is fifteen-year-old Loretta, who slips out of her bedroom every evening to meet her so-called gentile boyfriend. Her strict Mormon parents catch her returning one night, and promptly marry her off to Dean Harder, a devout yet materialistic fundamentalist who already has a wife and a brood of kids. The Harders relocate to his native Idaho, where Dean’s teenage nephew Jason falls hard for Loretta. A Zeppelin and Tolkien fan, Jason worships Evel Knievel and longs to leave his close-minded community. He and Loretta make a break for it. They drive all night, stay in hotels, and relish their dizzying burst of teenage freedom as they seek to recover Dean’s cache of “Mormon gold.” But someone Loretta left behind is on their trail...A riveting story of desire and escape, Daredevils boasts memorable set pieces and a rich cast of secondary characters. There’s Dean’s other wife, Ruth, who as a child in the 1950s was separated from her parents during the notorious Short Creek raid, when federal agents descended on a Mormon fundamentalist community. There’s Jason’s best friend, Boyd, part Native American and caught up in the activist spirit of the time, who comes along for the ride, with disastrous results. And Vestal’s ultimate creation is a superbly sleazy chatterbox—a man who might or might not be Evel Knievel himself—who works his charms on Loretta at a casino in Elko, Nevada. A lifelong journalist whose Spokesman column is a fixture in Spokane, WA, Shawn has honed his fiction over many years, publishing in journals like McSweeney’s and Tin House. His stunning first collection, Godforsaken Idaho, burrowed into history as it engaged with masculinity and crime, faith and apostasy, and the West that he knows so well. Daredevils shows what he can do on a broader canvas—a fascinating, wide-angle portrait of a time and place that's both a classic coming of age tale and a plunge into the myths of America, sacred and profane.

If you’d like a chance at winning Daredevils, simply email your name and mailing address to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line. Please include your mailing address in the body of the e-mail. One entry per person, please. Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on April 21, at which time I’ll draw the winning names. I’ll announce the lucky readers on April 22.  If you’d like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week newsletter, simply add the words “Sign me up for the newsletter” in the body of your email. Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

Want to double your odds of winning?  Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter. Once you’ve done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying “I’ve shared” and I’ll put your name in the hat twice.

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