Rose City




Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



Document Type



The thesis explores the power of stories in adolescence through the perspective of a worrisome fourteen-year old girl, April, and her eccentric nine-year old brother, Austin. After a sudden, devastating financial setback, April’s family moves to Rose City, Arkansas to start a new life. April knows about Rose City from the stories her parents used to tell about growing up there, but what she finds in this small town on the Mississippi delta isn’t quite as idyllic as what she always imagined. Although the move brings April and Austin closer to relatives they have not seen in years, it also reopens old wounds between their parents that threaten to tear the family apart. As her parents struggle to get back on their feet, April steps in as caretaker, looking after Austin, managing the house, and taking on responsibilities beyond her years. In secret, April and Austin consult storybooks and fairy tales, finding a comfort in books that they cannot find elsewhere. Over the course of three years, April must learn to maintain her family responsibilities while also navigating the murky world of adolescence: making friends, dating, and identifying the kind of woman she wants to be. Meanwhile, Austin must confront his father’s violent past and determine its significance for his own future. In the end, both young characters discover that Rose City is a place where the past filters into the present and family history becomes powerful mythology.



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Committee Chair

Bennett, James Gordon



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