Lisa Rowe Fraustino

Lisa's web site

Ash: A Novel

Ash: A Novel

An American Library association “Best Books for Young Adults”

With cover art by Julie Granahan, edited by Harold Underdown, the manuscript of this novel served as my PhD dissertation at the State University of New York-Binghamton in 1993 and was published by Orchard books in 1995. It was also published in translation by Gyldendal in Denamark and Mondadori in Italy.

Though the copyright page credits the narrator, Wes, with the comical drawings punctuating the narrative, they were actually drawn by moi (Lisa). This one’s my favorite:

Deena Libby



“Fraustino’s second novel is a forceful, disturbing novel about mental illness and the impact it has on a family. Wes writes in his journal, complete with grammatical errors and humorous sketches, of the year in which his brilliant older brother Ash becomes erratic, hears voices, and generally terrorizes the family with his behavior. Wes also writes of a different Ash, a brother who cared for and protected his younger brother and sister, and Wes mourns his loss. Over many months, Ash rejects his friends, gets involved with drugs, and takes on a completely new personality. The rest of the family, working to run their motel and struggling to understand and handle Ash’s behavior, begin to crack under the strain. Eventually, Ash is taken to the state hospital, where he is diagnosed with ‘schizoid tendencies’ and put on medication. Still, Wes is terrified, and rightly so, because Ash disappears for several months. Then, after another hospitalization, family counseling, and a suicide attempt, Ash begins to find a way to live with his schizophrenia, and Wes and his family start to re-create themselves. This is both Wes’s and Ash’s novel. Ash precipitates the events in the novel, and the reader comes to feel his desperation, but it is Wes who suffers and grows through the tragedy, unable to forget what his brother used to be or escape what Ash has become. Fraustino does many things well. She captures characters through Wes’s voice, engages the reader with empathy for all of the victims in the situation, and balances the tragic with touches of humor. ”

Sadly, Ash has gone out of print but is available used.

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