Recovering from Life

by Debra McKenna

  • Debut novel from author Debra McKenna
  • Targeted review campaign
  • Midwest Book Review
  • Featured on and picked up by and other media outlets


Recovering From Life is the tale of 39-year-old, red-headed spitfire Stephanie McCarthy’s rollicking road to redemption. A gifted freelance writer in Northern California, Steph works days hawking frozen foods while her life limps along. Until her husband, Kenny, disappears into the crack ghetto. His descent into addiction catapults Steph onto a wild ride that feels unendurable—but ultimately leads to her own self-discovery. Marooned in a state of financial doom, legal tangles, and emotional turmoil, Steph navigates the pitfalls of her new path, which takes her into the realms of drug dealers, high finance—and hot romance. With her wisecracking buddy, Lee, and other surprising allies at her side, Steph begins to rebuild her world as she stumbles into her own blind spots and wrestles with her faulty guy-radar. When Steph at last spies the “Welcome to Reality” sign at the end of the road, she realizes that her job is to heal from a life she never chose—and to recover from the one that she did. But while she rides that roller coaster of recovery, Stephanie has one hell of a good time.


Debra McKenna received a B.A. in English and did graduate work in Creative Writing. After nine years of feature writing and editing for city magazines, she decided to try her hand at fiction–that’s not including the fiction sometimes told her parents during the high school years. Their, “Where have you been?” was always answered by her, “At the library,” which was true during the day but never at night. There were much more interesting things to do at night.

She developed a love of books early on in grade school, first becoming enamored with Mark Twain, Carolyn Keene, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Thurber, and John Steinbeck, then moving on to J.D. Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut, Erica Jong, Marilyn French, Rita Mae Brown, Marge Piercy, Tom Wolfe and so many others. After reading the first book that really moved her, Debra thought simply: “Wow, look what he did.” She was smitten with the idea of creating another world.

Now a student of life and the human condition, this traveler of an unusual road has developed an emotional intelligence that influences her life and instructs her activities. She has a natural bent towards philosophy with a heavy dose of humor on the side. How can you live in this world otherwise?

When Debra’s not writing, she enjoys reading a variety of women authors, watching films, walking her dog, working out, and caterwauling to the radio.

Recovering from Life is her first novel.