DARLIN' NEAL is the author of the story collections Rattlesnakes & The Moon and Elegant Punk (Press 53). Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Puerto del Sol, The Southern Review, Eleven Eleven, The Huffington Post, and The Best of the Web. A recipient of the DH Lawrence, Frank Waters, and Mississippi Arts Commission Fiction Fellowships and a Henfield Transatlantic Review Award, she is Associate Professor in the MFA and undergraduate Creative Writing Programs at the University of Central Florida. Darlin' holds a PhD from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi, an MFA from the University of Arizona, and master's and bachelor's degrees from New Mexico State University.
Her first novel, Blessed Are, is a unique and unforgettable portrait of poverty narrated in the voice of Billie Rose, a teenage girl whose unstable family seeks shelter in The Gospel Rescue Mission in Las Cruces, New Mexico in 1983. The title has to do with the simple but essential question about being human. What does it mean for Billie Rose and her brother Ben to be beloved and blessed in a world that incompletely loves them? As Billie Rose and Ben survive the world around them, how do they find hope? How do the asylum-seeking Guatemalan children that Billie Rose meets in the present day find hope and survive in this world?
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