The Mysteries

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mary Coin, a masterful, intimate story of two young girls, joined in an unlikely friendship, whose lives are shattered in a single, unthinkable moment.

Miggy Brenneman is a wild and reckless seven-year-old with a fierce imagination. Ellen is polite, cautious, and drawn to her friend's bright flame. While the adults around them adjust to unstable times and fractured relationships, the girls respond with increasingly dangerous play. When tragedy strikes, all the novel's characters grapple with questions of fate and individual responsibility-none more so than Miggy, who must make sense of a swiftly disappearing past and a radically transformed future.

Written with searing clarity and surpassing tenderness, The Mysteries limns the painful ambiguities of adulthood and the intense perceptions of an indelibly drawn child to offer a profound exploration of how all of us, at every stage, must reckon with life's abundant and unsolvable mysteries.

The Mysteries


Silver’s luminous exploration of foundational relationships catastrophically altered by a gut-wrenching accident reveals the poignancy and vulnerability that underlie so many human contracts. Whether writing in the precociously gleeful voices of two guileless children or the increasingly jaded tones of damaged adults, Silver achieves a powerful and gripping authenticity that captures the confusion and, yes, the mystery of both innocence and maturity.

Carol Haggas

Booklist, starred review

This richly layered novel asks how well we can truly know another person. The characters here came to life for me and I felt in my bones their loneliness, their sorrow, along with their moments of generosity, their joy. I will think about them and root for them for a long time.

Mary Beth Keane

New York Times bestselling author of Ask Again, Yes

This exquisite gem of a novel digs deep into the longings of the human heart. Funny, compassionate, sorrowful, and tender, The Mysteries is an insightful and emotionally astute exploration of how love can both heal and fail us. I couldn't put it down, and I will be thinking about these characters for a very long time.

Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

author of The Nest

The Mysteries is a profound work of American portraiture.  Each of the six interconnected characters in The Mysteries is rendered with masterful specificity, most especially the two vivid little girls around which the worn-out adult world turns.  Marisa Silver sees with clear eyes and writes with dignity.  Her compassion for ordinary hurt brings to mind the work of William Trevor and Yiyun Li.  The Mysteries moved me almost to discomfort, but then released me into a broader understanding of intimacy, childhood, grief, and the very passage of time.  Like the best of fiction, this novel broke my heart, then put it back together.

Amity Gaige

author of Sea Wife

The Mysteries is character driven, and the reader will get wrapped up in each character’s purpose and the story’s theme. A definite keeper.

(read the full review)

Judith Reveal

New York Journal of Books

Marisa Silver's vividly alive and wondrously precise The Mysteries stirringly explores marriage, friendship, betrayal and a shattering moment of loss that offers grace and salvation At its pulsing heart center is the delightful and ungovernable Miggie. A heroine and novel I won't soon forget.

Maria Semple

author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette and Today Will Be Different

Marisa Silver uses language as she would a sharp needle: to stitch, and to puncture, in her examination of people who are as vivid and anxious as the tragic souls of Richard Yates.

Rachel Kushner

author of Flamethrowers and The Mars Room

Clear-eyed and devastating, Marisa Silver's The Mysteries is full of wisdom about grief--but also about the joys of childhood. Silver is the rare writer who can write in any register, about any age and state of being.

Karan Mahajan

author of The Association of Small Bombs

Silver faces the big mystery and the lesser, among them the mystery of personality, with her trademark clarity, her gorgeous sentences, to savor and underline, and her all-around brilliance.  A Silver novel is always cause for celebration.

Jane Hamilton

author of A Map of the World

...[the] chapters are written with a keen ear for the voices of children, filtered through the syntactic elegance that marks the entire book. In this way, language becomes character; Miggy and Ellen, as well as their parents, are embodied as much by what they think as by what happens to them.

(read the full review)

Heather Scott Partington


Even a loyal, longtime reader of Marisa Silver's outstanding previous stories and novels might be unprepared for the power and delicacy of The Mysteries. I found it to be a novel of almost unbearable intimacy. As one character, Celeste, thinks: "She's never learned to trust the idea of family." For good reason, as the complexities -- and profound mysteries -- of family life form the beating heart of this stunning, uncanny novel.

Peter Orner

author of Maggie Brown and Others: Stories

The Mysteries is the most beautiful and heartbreaking story of two families that are tied together by their young girls who are polar opposites and best friends. Miggy is the rambunctious troublemaker, while Ellen is the gentle, quiet one. In just a few short moments, a tragedy occurs and all of their lives are changed forever. The Mysteries is a deep exploration of the grief of children and of adults - how they differ and how they are the same. I laughed and cried with each of the families as they were experiencing life and loss. This book wrecked me in the best possible way. The intimate narration by Marisa Silver pulled me in and made me fall in love with the characters, even though they were all so different and experiencing their own challenges. I absolutely loved The Mysteries and know that I will think back on it often.

Kristen Beverly

Half Price Books

The Mysteries is probably the most heart-wrenchingly beautiful thing I've ever read.

Kris Stephens

Watermark Books & Cafe


LA Review of Books

The Unruliness of Life: A Conversation with Marisa Silver

St. Louis Public Radio

Marisa Silver On 'The Mysteries' Of Life And St. Louis In The '70s

Texas Public Radio

'The Mysteries': Marisa Silver Explores the Enigmas of Childhood in Latest Novel

Alta Magazine

"The Mysteries" author Marisa Silver sits down with Alta Journal contributor Heather Scott Partington to discuss her latest novel, ponder the complexities of young friendship, and answer your questions.

Los Angeles Daily News

'The Mysteries' taps into Watergate-era American life through the eyes of a little girl

Literary Hub

Marisa Silver Revisits the Golden Dawn of Girlhood


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