Nick Melnikov doesn’t know where he belongs. He was just a kid when his Russian-Jewish family immigrated to Michigan. Now he’s in London for university, overwhelmed by unexpected memories. Socially anxious, intensely private, and closeted, Nick doesn’t expect to fall in so quickly with a tight-knit group of students from his college, and it’s both exhilarating and scary. Hanging out with them is a roller coaster of serious awkward and incredible longing, especially when the most intimidating of the group, Dex, looks his way.
Dex Cartwell knows exactly who he is: a black queer guy who doesn’t give a toss what anybody thinks of him. He is absolutely, one-hundred-percent, totally in control of his life. Apart, maybe, from the stress of his family’s abrupt move to an affluent, largely white town. And worrying about his younger brother feeling increasingly isolated as a result. And the persistent broken heart he’s been nursing for a while . . .
When Nick and Dex meet, both find themselves intrigued. Countless late-night conversations only sharpen their attraction. But the last thing Nick wants is to face his deepest secret, and the last thing Dex needs is another heartache. Dex has had to fight too hard for his right to be where he is. Nick isn’t even sure where he’s from. So how can either of them tell where this is going?
A master of building tender and meaningful characters with heartbreaking stakes, Liz Jacobs deftly introduces audiences to the compelling, deeply personal narratives possible in coming-of-age and New Adult romance. ABROAD is an instant classic that approaches LGBTQIA+ and immigrant experiences from a powerful own-voices perspective.
“A nuanced and sexy take on growing up and learning to accept who you are.” —Teen Vogue
Liz Jacobs’s deeply personal essay “Living with Ghosts: On Exile,” published in VOICES, explores the intersections of her own biography with the humanitarian and social justice implications of immigration. Her essay reached thousands, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and deeply moved readers. Its concerns of queer identity and the realities of refugee immigration are the own-voices anchor of her coming-of-age duology Abroad.
Abroad: Book One dramatizes the themes of exile, reunion, isolation, and community by taking on the trope of an American abroad and turning it on its head — the American is only recently American, the world is straining against the oppression of Eurocentricism, and love is love is love.
Abroad immerses the reader in deep alternating point of view, creating a three-dimensional panorama of London, university life, and the inner worlds of an ensemble of Generation Z characters who look at themselves and the world from perspectives that are literally shaping the world as they live in it. The reader is taken in close, with an achingly slow-burn, wrought, and life-changing romance between Nick, the protagonist, and the sophisticated and heart-weary Dex; and the reader has the opportunity to be the fascinated observer of the drama and daily lives of a larger ensemble finding their place in the world. The prose is singular — both lyrical and contemporary — and will speak to adult readers of groundbreaking contemporary fiction and avid readers of young and new adult fiction.
Sophisticated readers of Nicola Yoon, Jandy Nelson, and Meredith Russo will be captivated by the heartache, joy, triumph, and longing built moment by moment through the enchanting ensemble of characters in Abroad, and will hold their breath in the final pages of book one, as Nick and Dex take their first passionate and tentative steps toward each other.
Abroad: Book One will be available in a limited-edition, short-run softcover fine first edition with interior color pages, signed by the author, numbered, and sold directly through the Brain Mill Press website, as well as in ebook and general-sale print editions available through the worldwide English distribution channels and to libraries via Overdrive and other ebook channels.
“Written from a beautiful and intimate ‘own voices’ perspective, Liz Jacobs’s Abroad is a delight. Accurate and nuanced writing is becoming the norm with Brain Mill Press, and Abroad continues this trend, and raises the bar higher.
—All About Romance, “Desert Isle Keeper” review
Liz Jacobs on writing Abroad
March 17, 2017
When I wrote the essay “Living with Ghosts” in 2016, I had very little inkling of how prominently Russia would end up featuring in US—and world—politics in the coming months. That these last few months have caused pain to so many goes, I think, without saying. They’ve certainly cost me sleep, a feeling of safety, and shaken hope that I never thought could be shaken. I thought I was safe in America as a Jew. I thought that, ultimately, this country believed in the good of its immigrants.
Through all of this strife, however, I have become convinced that we all need, and deserve, to tell our stories. I don’t believe that my story is more important than anyone else’s, but I also know that reading other people’s stories has made it easier for me to confront my own. I want my story out there so that people’s views may begin to shift from “Russia is a threat to our democracy” to “the Russian government is a threat to any democracy, including its own.” Russia is vast, its people varied. With this essay, I had hoped to bring some clarity to certain views, but ultimately, what better way to immerse your readers in a world than through fiction? I’ve wanted to write Abroad for a very long time but was scared by its scope, the sheer weight of it on my shoulders. When I realized that it was a romance, it began to make a lot more sense. The central story is accepting who you are, for all you are, so that others may begin to accept you, too. It’s opening yourself up to possibilities despite, or because of, everything that you have experienced. With Abroad, I hope to show the reader that every story counts, and take control of how my natal country, a country that makes up so much of who I am, is portrayed.
Liz Jacobs came over with her family from Russia at the age of 11, as a Jewish refugee. All in all, her life has gotten steadily better since that moment. They settled in an ultra-liberal haven in the middle of New York State, which sort of helped her with the whole “grappling with her sexuality” business.
She has spent a lot of her time flitting from passion project to passion project, but writing remains her constant. She has flown planes, drawn, made jewelry, had an improbable internet encounter before it was cool, and successfully wooed the love of her life in a military-style campaign. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for her essay on her family’s experience with immigration.
She currently lives with her wife in Massachusetts, splitting her time between her day job, writing, and watching a veritable boatload of British murder mysteries.
Press for Abroad
- “On Being a Queer Russian Immigrant and Getting To Tell My Own Story, in My Own Words” — Liz Jacobs at The Mary Sue
- Liz Jacobs is interviewed at LGBTQ Reads about Abroad, her experiences as an immigrant teenager, and more.
- “Liz Jacobs on When She Knew ‘Abroad’ Would Be a Romance” at USA Today