cover image Bonnie


Christina Schwarz. Atria, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4767-4545-9

Schwarz (The Edge of the Earth) entices with this introspective view of notorious bank robber Bonnie Parker. In 1926, Bonnie marries her high school sweetheart, Roy, at 15 and they drop out of school. After Roy disappears for long stretches, Bonnie begins waitressing at Marco’s Café in Dallas to make ends meet, writing poetry on the side and leaving out food for people in need. After the Great Depression hits and Marco’s closes, Bonnie works odd jobs and her dreams of becoming a poet dim (“she’d learned to accept the fading of those bright dreams as the price of adulthood”). In 1930, Bonnie leaves Roy and stays at a friend’s house. A young man named Clyde Barrow shows up there, and Bonnie becomes enamored with him. Clyde courts Bonnie for a few weeks before being slapped with a two-year sentence for stealing a safe. Bonnie visits him in prison, and after he’s freed and starts robbing banks, she evolves from accomplice to partner in crime. She and Clyde continue their spree across the southeast, stealing cars, robbing banks, and exchanging gunfire with police, activities that lead to their being gunned down in a police ambush in 1934. The author expertly magnifies the characters’ desperation and intertwines the excitement of eluding the law with their magnetic sexual attraction. Schwarz’s rich narrative brings fresh life into the notorious tale of two American outlaws. Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME. (July)