Lisa Borders


Reviews and Praise

“Ultimately, bravery, love and hope are celebrated in The Fifty-First State, a state that is imagined, a state in which a better life is possible.”
(Read the full review)

Debra Leigh Scott
for the New York Journal of Books


“…A clear-eyed and tender look at the mistakes we make and how forgiveness can heal. There are no perfect endings, but there are ways forward.”
(Read the full review)

Jan Blodgett
for Library Journal


An “engaging ... story of building family where one was fractured, and how friends and neighbors create community during times of unbearable pain.”
(Read the full review)

Jacqueline Cutler
for The Star-Ledger


“Many books that open with a tragedy lack a spirit of hopefulness toward the work’s end, but The Fifty-First State is not that book.” (Read the full review)

Lindsay Denninger
for The Summerset Review


“It's funny that I felt so safe in the world of a novel that opens with heart-stopping tragedy (in the best prologue since The Corrections); it's because Lisa Borders writes with such empathy, humor and hope that she holds the reader's heart in her hands as well as her characters'. And as a Jersey Girl, I can vouch Borders writes with the authenticity to match Springsteen and David Chase, while mapping out new territory. I love this novel.”

Jenna Blum,
New York Times and internationally bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers


“Deeply affecting and compulsively readable, The Fifty-First State displays Lisa Borders’ emotional acuity, first-rate skills as a storyteller, and profound empathy not only for her two compelling main characters but for an oft-neglected region and a disappearing way of life.”

Christopher Castellani,
author of All This Talk of Love


The Fifty-First State is an embrace of a novel—warm, intimate, enveloping—and, like all the best embraces, it starts with a thrill and ends before you are entirely ready to let go. I read it in one sitting and would have found a way to do the same even if it were twice as long.”

Yael Goldstein Love,
author of The Passion of Tasha Darsky


The Fifty-First State is a place of tenderness and terror, with beautiful vistas of generosity of heart. I read this novel in one sitting, moved by its deeply imagined coming-of-age story, grateful for a writer whose compassion is matched by her talent.”

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein,
author of 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction


“A big-hearted novel about the surprises—big and small, tragic and gloriously sweet—that turn the tables on seemingly quotidian lives. The Fifty-First State is a place where good news and fluke disasters live side by side, whether in the lurking menace of a sorry neighbor or the shifting nuances of developing love. That is to say, a delightfully realistic world readers will enthusiastically recognize as their own.”

Daphne Kalotay,
author of Sight Reading and Russian Winter


The Fifty-First State is a riveting, intricately detailed, passionate novel, with a powerhouse pair of characters that will fascinate and perplex you from the opening page until the final gorgeous paragraph. Lisa Borders is a writer who not only understands how to break your heart, but also how to piece it together again.”

Scott Heim,
author of Mysterious Skin and We Disappear


“A novel that begins with a bang and settles achingly into the remnants of grief for those left behind--two near strangers who must learn how to knit a new kind of family together, all within a poisoned landscape in which even the smallest of creatures carry the mark of the past in their deformed limbs. The metaphor is pitch-perfect, the novel honest and plain-spoken, large in its ambitions, with a voice that bends itself without a hitch to the weight of its character's sorrows and resilience. With The Fifty-First State, Lisa Borders has done it again.”

Michelle Hoover,
author of The Quickening


“Lisa Borders is a writer of fine emotional intelligence and boundless compassion for her characters. In The Fifty-First State, a story of finding family after devastating loss, estranged siblings Hallie and Josh face problems so credible and realized that I worried for them as if they were friends of mine, and they surprised me in the way friends do.”

Sheri Joseph,
author of Where You Can Find Me, Stray, and Bear Me Safely Over