After years of medicated struggle, 34-year-old Zoe quits her office job and moves into a trailer with her boyfriend in rural Maine against her family’s wishes and her doctor’s advice. After all, she has big plans with Gordy, a goateed vegetarian with thoughtful eyes and a job at a yoga studio and, as it turns out, an unfortunate desire to always be in control. But when a late-night argument turns violent, Zoe runs away in search of a mystical beach house she recalls from childhood, only to discover that in order to find it, she must reckon with her past. In electric prose that burns with wit and intelligence, David’s first novel, Miss Portland, explores what it means to give up everything in order to recover who you are.
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“A moving paean to becoming the place where you belong…..a complex, intimate, and deeply humane portrait of a person whose experience of the world is both alternate and poignantly familiar. Ebenbach captures a profound vulnerability in Zoe’s dichotomies. At the heart, Zoe wants to root and connect. While she grasps at straws with one hand, she offers whatever she’s managed to grasp with the other. Rather than discourage her, Zoe’s difference sharpens her conviction. Yet, as Zoe’s story unfolds, Ebenbach’s sensitive portrayal resists easy answers or convenient endings. Zoe’s quest for a happy ending may take her to Portland, Maine, but, ultimately, it leads her back to herself.”
-Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers, Foreword
“In David Ebenbach’s touching new novel, Miss Portland, the ‘home’ our protagonist is looking for is a place where she can be accepted with all her idiosyncrasies and passions…. it’s about how one woman comes to terms with herself, her choices, and her own difference in a world that values similarity and punishes ‘originality.’…Where Zoe chooses to go, and what she finds in her final quest, illuminate both her past and her future.”
-Laurie Tobenkin, Washington Independent Review of Books
“Anybody who has ever tried (again) to make a fresh start, to begin again (again), to give it all another shot someplace else (again), will adore Miss Portland and its hero, Zoe Tussler, a woman who can’t make up her mind about very much, and yet is very much a survivor. Miss Portland is a book that makes not figuring out not only alright, but actually kind of inspiring. Zoe is a complex character with a big heart and a hectic mind. As she says late in the book: ‘But I’ve tried everything! And I’m always the same!’ Isn’t this the truth? For so many of us. God knows I include myself. And Zoe is the sort of character who will stick with you, not only because she might well remind you of yourself or someone you know, but also because she’s an utterly unique character in her own right. By the end of the book you’ll be seeing the world through Zoe’s eyes and you’ll find beauty in just being able to get through the day, which, when you think about it, is pretty huge. This is a very memorable and humane book, the kind of book we need more of.”
“In his novel, Miss Portland, David Ebenbach graces us with an unforgettable portrait of Zoe, a young visionary and divine innocent suffering from a diagnosis of the psyche that falls short of healing. With rabbinic wisdom, the sweet truths of parable and perfect wit, Ebenbach reminds us that what we can most richly give and receive from one another on this earth are acts of loving kindness and humble, curative gestures of empathy.”
“David Ebenbach’s novel Miss Portland accomplishes something remarkable, which is to make the mind of someone who thinks differently from most of us accessible and sympathetic. This book manages to be at once enchanting and deeply troubling, beautifully simple and subtly complex, a pleasure to read and something that will stay with you long after you’ve put it down.”