Alumnus Gordy Sauer '11 Publishes 'Child in the Valley' with Hub City Press

Nicole Saldarriaga
August 26, 2021

Child in the Valley, a debut novel by alumnus Gordy Sauer '11, was released this week by Hub City Press to high praise from authors and reviewers.

The novel follows seventeen-year-old Joshua Gaines, an orphan who dreams of becoming a doctor like his late father, but finds himself on the run from his father's debt. Joshua becomes entangled with a group of people on their way to Gold Rush California, hoping to make it big, but the hardships of the 1500 mile journey lead them into a life of robbery and murder instead. As he falls deeper and deeper into a life of crime, Joshua reckons with his own morality, his growing desire for the men around him, and the brutality that has haunted him all his life.

Lambda Literary listed Child in the Valley as a "Most Anticipated Book of August," and LGBTQ Reads named it a "Most Anticipated Fall Book."

According to Publisher's Weekly, "Sauer debuts with a riveting cautionary tale of greed set during the California gold rush. Sauer's imagistic style credibly affects an apocalyptic tone while describing the desolate landscape. This is an accomplished literary Western."

Kirkus Reviews also praised the novel, saying "Sauer balances vivid scenes of violence and betrayal with glimpses of Joshua's emotional turmoil as he's drawn more deeply into Renard's scheme, one that with each murderous theft transports him further from his dream of following his father into the medical profession. The young man's conflict climaxes when he and the others encounter a religious community that brings him face to face with the depth of his transgressions. The ruthlessness of Renard's gang becomes a metaphor for the history of white civilization's westward expansion in the 19th century, but Joshua's own journey concludes on a note that offers, if not full redemption, at least a glimmer of hope."

Gordy Sauer is a native Texan and transplant Missourian. He holds an MFA from Columbia University and an MA from Clemson University. His writing has appeared in Narrative Magazine and Boulevard, among other places, and he received a 2013 artist's grant for residency at the Vermont Studio Center. A lifelong educator, he has taught snowboarding, fly fishing, middle school math and science, and now works as a speechwriter at Mizzou.