Copy Boy

It’s 1937. Jane has left her pregnant mother with a man she hates, left her father for dead in an irrigation ditch, remade herself as a man, and lied her way into a job as a newspaper copy boy. And everything’s getting better—until her father turns up on The Prospect’s front page in a picture that threatens to destroy her new identity.

Copy Boy is a San Francisco noir about a girl who becomes a boy to escape a crime she may or may not have committed. Order now.


“Copy Boy is a fantastic story of a young woman's survival and re-invention, set in Northern California during the Depression. Blanton-Stroud's prose sings and crackles and brings us into the world of Jane with so much compassion and beauty and wisdom. An engaging, wonderfully original book."

— Karen E. Bender, author of The New Order, long listed for the Story Prize,
and Refund, a National Book Award finalist

The details...

In 1937, seventeen-year-old tomato-picker Jane is manipulated by her mother into a fight with her father. In self-defense, she hits him with a crowbar, leaving him for dead in an irrigation ditch. Jane’s guilt is especially devastating, as her mother has always told her she killed her twin brother at birth—she was supposedly such a big infant that she blocked his delivery. Her twin’s voice speaks in her head, telling her to run.

Jane thinks she’s escaped the consequences of her crimes against family by running off to San Francisco, where she reinvents herself as a newspaper copy boy. At first her disguise is just a means of economic survival. But it becomes more than that. As a male, she begins to succeed, to see herself as belonging among the intellectuals and artists of her era, aiming to become a famous reporter, like Martha Gellhorn.

Then, on her eighteenth birthday, her father’s picture appears on the front page of the paper in a documentary photograph by a famous photographer, his arm around an Okie girl Jane’s own age. The girl is now in a coma—she’s been struck by a crowbar. Jane’s got to find out if the photograph is old or recent, if her father’s alive, if the girl’s attack is a message from him to Jane.

As stress mounts, her dead twin’s voice becomes more insistent. He’s coaxing her, advising her, threatening her, to extend her invented life as a boy. She begins to see her brother may have interests distinct from hers.

Jane’s got to find her father before he finds her, and before everyone else finds her out. She’s got to protect her invented identity. This is what she thinks she wants. It’s definitely what her dead brother wants.