Reader Reviews

From Barnes and Noble

An exceptionally well-written book with a first-rate plot

Reviewed by Alice D. for Readers Favorite


Annie Cleaving’s mother has died, and her young son, Ethan, has been killed in an automobile accident by the drunken youngest son of the town sheriff. Annie is grieving deeply, so she quits her job and sells her family home in Kentucky. She doesn’t want to live in a town where everyone knows her. Boxes packed, ready to go, Annie finds she cannot sell her family home. Half of the house did belong to her Grandmother Lucy, but the other half was willed to Lucy’s eleven surviving children. Annie sets off on a journey to those aunts and uncles, hoping to get each of them to sign off on the deed. And what a journey she has, traveling through Virginia to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, finding out how much her mother Millie meant to each of them. Annie also finds out family secrets such as why she and her mother lived for over two years with hippie Uncle Asher. Annie eventually learns to make peace with what cannot be changed. Do all her aunts and uncles sign off, or does it really matter?


House of Cleaving is an exceptionally well-written book with a first-rate plot, a rarity in these days of self-publishing. All readers will stay with Annie as she journeys to the truth behind her family’s secrets. All characters are well drawn and believable, as the author creates a world where the past is not easy to accept but, nonetheless, quite real. The reader will not forget those pages where Annie’s mother, Millie, finds her true love celebrating with his family instead of meeting with her. House of Cleaving is a book for everyone, and one that won’t be forgotten.


An original story of mystery that twists and turns with all the intracacies of the great American family


The journey is often mysterious, the destination unclear, the motifs unknown, but the ride is well worth it in this outstanding story by Melissa Newman!

From Amazon

More books, please


I can’t wait till Melissa Newman comes out with more books! This along with Sister Blackberry is a must read!

A Note to Readers

Just a Short Hiatus ... More Novels to Come

While Growing Up Wilder was my last novel, it will certainly not be my final. I have two outlines just dying to escape from my desk drawer and I often have to apologetically shove them back in when I find they have made it to the surface time and again.

I am currently working toward completing my doctorate degree (I am all but dissertation, folks!) and I am tangled up in research that uses storytelling and social media as a way to increase hope levels for individuals and entire communities.

This research is allowing me to focus on solving a problem within Kentucky's Appalachia - negative stereotypes.

Readers, please be patient. I will return to fiction shortly. Until then, please continue to share Sister Blackberry, House of Cleaving and Growing Up Wilder with your friends and family.

As always, I welcome your notes and messages.