In 2009, Amanda Stott-Smith dropped her children off a bridge in Portland, Oregon. Her 7-year-old daughter lived, screaming until she was fished out of the freezing river by a good Samaritan. Her 4-year-old son drowned. Writer (and occasional Reason contributor) Nancy Rommelmann read about the story the next morning over a cup of coffee, then spent the next seven years chasing down every detail. The result is To the Bridge: A True Story of Motherhood and Murder, a reported work of non-fiction that is both as beautiful and as true as possible, given the circumstances.
As a writer, Rommelmann's defining attribute is an apparent willingness to gaze long and hard at the very things most people would rather look away from. Her previous book, a novel called Bad Mother, follows a cluster of street kids in L.A. as they make catastrophically bad choices. In both works, the storytelling is equal parts horrifying and lyrical.