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At the height of the Cold War, Lucybelle Bledsoe is offered a job seemingly too good to pass up. However, there are risks. Her scientific knowledge and editorial skills are unparalleled, but her personal life might not withstand government scrutiny. Leaving behind the wreckage of a relationship, Lucybelle finds solace in working for the visionary scientist who is extracting the first-ever polar ice cores. The lucidity of ice is calming and beautiful. But the joyful pangs of a new love clash with the impossible compromises of queer life. If exposed, she could lose everything she holds dear. Based on the hidden life of the author’s aunt and namesake, A Thin Bright Line is a love story set amid Cold War intrigue, the origins of climate research, and the nascent civil rights movement. Poignant, brilliant, and moving, it reminds us to act on what we love, not just wish for it.
"It triumphs as an intimate and humane evocation of day-to-day life under inhumane circumstances."—New York Times Book Review
“Bledsoe covers a lot of ground here, imagining her intellectual aunt’s relationship to the queer cultural transformations of the 1950s, as well as the paranoia of the Cold War era.”—San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
Lucy Jane Bledsoe is an award-winning science writer and novelist for adults and children. Her many books include The Ice Cave: A Woman’s Adventures from the Mojave to the Antarctic, The Big Bang Symphony: A Novel of Antarctica, This Wild Silence, and Working Parts. A native of Portland, Oregon, she lives in Berkeley, California.
“This is gripping historical fiction about queer life at the height of the Cold War and the civil rights movement, and its grounding in fact really makes it sing. Like the scientists whose papers she edits, Lucybelle Bledsoe is passionate about the truth. Whether it’s the climate history of the planet as illuminated by cores of polar ice or the pursuit of an authentic emotional life in the miasma of McCarthyism, she operates with piercing honesty.”—Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home
“A testament to courage and perseverance in the face of oppression, and a compelling, literary page-turner worthy of standing alongside the works of Pat Barker and Graham Greene. A Thin Bright Line reminds us that we are nothing, deep down, without love and dignity.”—Patrick Ryan, author of The Dream Life of Astronauts
“In this ingenious hybrid of fact and fiction, a fine novelist uses her storytelling skills to recover the lost life of a favorite aunt, a bookish, unmarried scientist from Arkansas. With her story Bledsoe also exhumes a dark, clandestine age in American history, the time of Ann Bannon and Patricia Highsmith, but made more intimate and real.”—Christopher Bram, author of Gods and Monster
“Through her fictional reconstruction of the life of her namesake, her beloved aunt—who fought the good fight as a pioneering professional and a lesbian in unsympathetic times—Lucy Jane Bledsoe re-creates an important piece of history and imagines what it was like to live it. Poignant in both its conception and execution.”—Lillian Faderman, author of The Gay Revolution
“An engaging and moving novel about an unforgettable character. Intelligent, unadorned, and unsentimental, it allows us to look at a difficult time in American history with clarity instead of nostalgia.”—Rabih Alameddine, author of An Unnecessary Woman
“Bledsoe injects life and dimension through her often stunning dialogue. With heart and zest, the author depicts Lucybelle's slice of life as both pleasant and harrowing.”—Publishers Weekly
“Is it possible for a novel to both break your heart and to heal it? . . . Bledsoe is deft in the way she shows . . . various models of how to be a lesbian in the world of the ‘50s and early ‘60s.”—Lambda Literary Review
“A story set in mid-20th century America – one that deftly weaves closeted sexuality, Cold War politics and a mysterious death that haunts the author to this day.”—San Jose Mercury News