Katie Crawford

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Katie Crawford is a 1993 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Swarthmore College. Following graduation, she taught public elementary school for over eight years until the birth of her first son. She is mother to four children ages 15, 14, 12, and 11. She currently writes for her town newspaper, The Swarthmorean, and is also working on her second novel which has the working title of "147". Like Mine, this novel explores and challenges the concept of "the good mother".

Mine Cover


BY Katie Crawford • POSTED ON March 1, 2016

In this debut novel, a woman learns a truth as old as literature: she can’t escape the past just by moving away and up.

This hardscrabble story opens in 1947. Maggie Coyle and her little sister, Janie, huddle outside their shabby house while their mother labors to give birth. Welcome to hell, or its suburb, Mahanoy, Pennsylvania, a coal town where their father can be found either gasping in a mine or drinking in a bar. The baby daughter is stillborn; worse, their mother then becomes catatonic. The girls are bereft. A determined Maggie vows to flee all this—the boys working in the mines and half the girls getting pregnant in high school—and seemingly does. She earns a scholarship that leads to a nursing degree and freedom. Janie, meanwhile, finds mindless work in the parish rectory. There she meets Father Timothy, a young priest with a past as troubled as the Coyle girls’. Janie bears a daughter, who’s given up for adoption (the priest never even knows that he’s the baby’s father). Meanwhile, Maggie meets a brilliant, young surgeon (with a tumultuous past, of course). They marry, have six beautiful children, and Janie comes to live with them in a big house in Philadelphia. After many years of being the greatest aunt God created, Janie contracts cancer. From here on, the story, a tale of guilt, anger, and anxious expiation, focuses on Maggie. She has a wonderful husband and children who love her. (But do they adore Aunt Janie even more?) Maggie cannot forgive herself every sin she imagines, until finally the reader wants to shake her. In lesser hands, Maggie would be almost a parody of the morally tortured martyr, but with strong writing, a wonderfully modulated pace, and tenacious introspection, the novel delivers a complex portrait. Crawford paints with a really dark palette, reflecting life’s myriad tragedies. At one point, Maggie, in a tearful conversation with her father, angrily recalls her mother: “I remember her hair. I remember brushing her hair. She’d let me and Janie do it, always telling us how good it felt...I remember you making her cry. I remember that, too.” The author knows the human heart to a scary extent. This is a remarkable debut, and readers should look forward to Crawford’s next work.

An intense, perceptive tale of two sisters grappling with a turbulent family history.  

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-944193-22-5

Page count: 248pp

Publisher: Deeds Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

Katie Crawford on WHYY

Awards, Press & Interests


Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

Favorite book

To Kill a Mockingbird

Unexpected skill or talent

Platform tennis

Mine: Kirkus Star

Mine: Named to <i>Kirkus Reviews'</i> Best Books, 2016



Mary Shrier is a beautiful, wealthy, mother of three, living an envious life in an affluent suburb of Philadelphia. She pays meticulous attention to every detail of her family's life, often referred to by others with some degree of disdain as, "the perfect mother." And yet Mary's constant drive to provide her children with only happy occasions belies a more troubling past. When faced with a diagnosis she cannot control, Mary decides to do everything in her power to leave her children with a pristine, heroic memory of their mother. But planning her death forces her to dig back into her past, to remember the lost, little girl she desperately tried to leave behind.