A Bit About My Books
Three weeks before Christmas, on December 1, 1958, one of the most horrific fires in America broke out at Our Lady of the Angels elementary school in Chicago, claiming the lives of ninty-two children and three nuns. Fire Angels is a fictional account of that fire. It's a story of arson; of bravery by parents, nuns, firefighters, and medical professionals; of a falsly accused janitor; of a cover-up within the Catholic Church; of a judge who, in having to determine the juvenile arsonist's fate, is torn between loyalty to his church and justice; of a tight-knit community changed forever; and of two survivors who fall in love. Fire itself is also a central character in this story, a cunning observor that comes to life whenever a flame is lit.
"Heartbreakingly engrossing, and a part of Chicago's living history"
—Foreword Reviews, Winter 2016
Published by Academy Chicago, an imprint of Chicago Review Press
Mercy Goodhue is the story of a Puritan woman who is driven to the brink of madness by the harsh religious beliefs of her time. It is also the story of a tenacious midwife and herbalist, Goody Hammer, who never gives up on Mercy, and saves her from committing an unthinkable crime.
The story is inspired by an excerpt taken from the diary of John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Company, who in 1637 wrote about such a woman, Anne Needham Hett.
“Mercy Goodhue represents the best of the best of historical fiction. It is a magnificently, beautifully written story. While authentically set in the 17th century, Mercy’s story is eternal, sensitive, and affecting. Kern creates characters who come palpably to life and a plot that is as real today as it was in the 17th century. Mercy Goodhue is a page-turner, because it (and she) gain our sympathy and understanding. We care about what happens, and we discover a different world that resonates with our own.”
—Edith B. Gelles, Stanford University, author of Abigail and John: Portrait of a Marriage
Wanting to Be Jackie Kennedy
News of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ death in 1994 propels 50-year-old Ellie Manikowski back to her old Polish neighborhood in Chicago and to the bittersweet memories of her teenage years in the 1960s. It’s a poignant, laugh-out-loud story of Ellie’s circuitous journey to womanhood and the role the nation’s elegant first lady plays in helping her cope with tragedy and triumph.
“Fueled by vivid descriptions and powerful atmospherics, Ellie’s memories of her adolescence are simultaneously pleasant . . . and heartrending . . . The author’s voice is impressive as themes of religion—its significance or lack thereof—are sounded. Historical landmarks and references blend with a compelling storyline to create a nostalgic, moving story that will resonate with young adults and adult readers alike.”
Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Review