(Tor Forge/Macmillan, May 9, 2017)
Jenni L. Walsh spent her early years chasing around cats, dogs, and chickens in Philadelphia’s countryside, before dividing time between a soccer field and a classroom at Villanova University. She put her marketing degree to good use as an advertising copywriter, zip-code hopping with her husband to DC, NYC, NJ, and not surprisingly, back to Philly. There, Jenni’s passion for words continued, adding author to her resume. She now balances her laptop with a kid on each hip, and a four-legged child at her feet.
BECOMING BONNIE is her debut novel that tells the untold story of how church-going Bonnelyn Parker becomes half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo during the 1920s.
The summer of 1927 might be the height of the Roaring Twenties, but Bonnelyn Parker is more likely to belt out a church hymn than sling drinks at an illicit juice joint. She’s a sharp girl with plans to overcome her family’s poverty: finish school, become a teacher, provide for herself . . . and maybe someday marry her longtime boyfriend, Roy Thornton. But when Roy springs a proposal on her and financial woes jeopardize her ambitions, Bonnelyn finds salvation in the unlikeliest of places: Dallas’s newest speakeasy, Doc’s.
In the fast life of bootleg liquor, glitzy dresses and jazz music, Bonnelyn discovers unexpected freedom, and the pay is not bad either. Living the life of a moll at night, she remains a good, wholesome girl by day, engaged to Roy, attending school and working toward a steady future. When Roy discovers her secret life, and embraces it—perhaps too much, especially when it comes to booze and gambling—Bonnelyn tries to make the pieces fit. Maybe she can have it all: the American Dream, the husband, and the intoxicating allure of jazz music. What she doesn’t know is that her life—like her country—is headed for a crash.
She’s about to meet a convicted felon by the name of Clyde Barrow.
Few details are known about Bonnie’s life prior to meeting her infamous partner. In this richly imagined and empathetic novel, Jenni L. Walsh shows a young woman promised the American Dream and given the Great Depression, and offers a compelling account of why she fell so hard for a convicted felon—and turned to crime herself.