CLEAN AIR

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“We couldn’t breathe the air. To some people it seemed quick, sudden even. To some it seemed gradual. In hindsight, everyone said the signs were there.”

A decade has passed since The Turning. The climate apocalypse has come and gone, and in the end it wasn’t the waters rising, as the scientists predicted, nor the temperature climbing, nor the forest fires spreading. It was pollen—spring allergies becoming worse and worse until the air became unbreathable, the world overgrown with trees.

In the past ten years, humanity has rebuilt, and Izabel has gotten used to the airtight domes that now contain her life. She raises her young daughter and attempts to make peace with her mother’s death. She tries hard to be satisfied with this new world, safe and prosperous as it is. Instead she feels stuck.

And then the peace of the new world is shattered. Someone starts slashing through the domes at night, exposing people to the deadly pollen—a serial killer. Almost simultaneously, Izabel’s daughter Cami begins sleep-talking, having whole conversations about the murders that she doesn’t seem to remember after she wakes. Izabel becomes fixated on the killer, both tracking him down and figuring out the type of man he might be. What could compel someone to kill, after ten years dedicated to sheer survival, with humanity finally flourishing again?

Clean Air is an amazing blend of page-turning mystery, important commentary about environmental destruction, and poignant portraiture of maternal love. Sarah Blake is a poet, and it shows in the way she takes her brilliant premise to another level with her economical prose, distilled insights, and wonderfully disturbing imagery.”
—Angie Kim, author of Miracle Creek

“Sarah Blake’s Clean Air is both a scintillating hunt for a serial killer and a pollen-flecked meditation on what we owe each other and the planet. I loved every page and didn’t want it to end.”
—Katie Williams, author of Tell the Machine Goodnight

Clean Air is the work of a rare and casually powerful literary imagination. It is set in a future that feels all too real, a post-apocalyptic novel that is both a family story and a thriller. It’s a remarkable book, a compelling read that haunts with its astuteness.”
—Joan Silber, author of Improvement

“Sarah Blake has travelled into the future to create a precise portrait of motherhood in this current moment, complete with one of the most fully realized children I have ever met on the page. Told with a poet’s economy and logic, Clean Air is a clear-eyed look at the terror and tenderness of motherhood, and a parent’s ordinary devotion in an extraordinary world. Be warned: you might not be able to put this book down until you reach its final page (and you’ll enjoy every minute of it).”
—Shruti Swamy, author of A House Is a Body

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Artwork by Diane Pieri