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3.79  ·  Rating details ·  2,825 ratings  ·  480 reviews
With the heart, daring, and evocative atmosphere of Winter’s Bone and True Grit, and driven by the raw, whip-smart voice of Percy James, a blistering debut about a fearless sixteen-year old girl whose search for her missing mother leads to an unexpected discovery, and a life or death struggle in the harsh frozen landscape of the Upper Midwest.

As a blizzard bears down, Perc
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 1st 2016 by Ecco (first published February 2nd 2016)
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3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,825 ratings  ·  480 reviews

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Will Byrnes
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: omyg, fiction
I could see the baby was shrieking, but its cries were buried by the wind. The snow blew in sideways, edged across the floor and dusted the baby’s cheeks with frost. The baby’s eyes darted in a side-to-side panic as it reached up with trembling hands and searched for something to grasp.
I ran toward it.
16 year old Percy James had gone looking for her missing mother, yet again, and both hoped and feared she might find her at the home of Shelton Potter, local source for substances of the illeg
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grit-lit
this was pitched to me (by greg) as "a funny Winter's Bone."

and that's a very good description, although "funny" is relative, and it's more "funny used to offset otherwise horrible things" and "funny compared to other grit lit."

but considering the plot of the story, it's amazing there's anything funny about it at all: a sixteen-year-old girl named percy james enters a known meth house looking for her relapsed mother carletta. she does not find her but she does find a dead dog, a live cat, two p
Diane S ☔
Aug 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first thing I noticed about this book was how wonderfully it was written, the words and the plot just flowed aimlessly. Nothing was forced, it was all as natural as a story being told to one person by another. Another thing was the location, grit lit in Northern Michigan. Love it! The characters, Percy and Portis are both very memorable characters. Percy, sixteen years old with way to much responsibility for one so young, trying to take care of her mother who is hooked on drugs and alcohol. ...more
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Edit: 13 Apr 2017 - Kindle $1.99 Today

Percy James, 16, lives in the hills of Cutler County, Michigan. She’s accustomed to her mother going missing, but with a blizzard on the horizon, she’s afraid of where she is, whom she’s with and most of all, if she’s passed out somewhere. That’s the trouble with Carletta, she’s trouble, troubled, and troubling. Figuring Carletta might be at Shelton Potter’s cabin, she heads over to his place. Shelton and his girlfriend are passed out cold downstairs, but P
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Feb 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shelby *trains flying monkeys* by: Bonnie
Sixteen year old Percy's mama is on the meth again. She has taken off and Percy heads over to the local drug dealer's house to try and find her mama to drag her home again.
Palm Springs commercial photography

When she gets there her mama Carletta isn't there..but the local drug dealer Shelton and his girlfriend are zonked out in the house. Then she goes upstairs and finds a baby.
During a snowstorm.
With the windows open and snow filling her crib.
Percy takes the baby. After figuring out what the smell of death was in the house. Yu
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book, another one set in Michigan, where I live.
Very atmospheric novel that kept me completely engaged as I seemed to be on the cold snowy journey to safety along with two of the main characters and an infant taken from a drug house. So much crazy stuff happens along the way!! IJust have to say... I LOVED Portis!!!!
A fearless sixteen-year-old girl whose search for her missing mother leads to an unexpected discovery and a life-and-death struggle in the harsh frozen landscape of the upper Midwest...

A heartfelt and sincere book, beautiful. Between tender and tough.
Percy, the 16-year young heroine, she touched my heart.
In a way this story reminds you of the brave 14-year old Mattie Ross, of True Grit (just read this). Sort of a modern version story of persistence, fighting spirit and stamina. A dark but hopef
Angela M
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a dark story in so many ways but there's one light that shines amidst the darkness and the drugs and death and that light is Percy James . It's a powerful, riveting story that had me from the first page and sixteen year old Percy James became a favorite character for me almost immediately.

It's been a tough life with her alcohol and drug addicted mother Carletta, but she loves her mother and needs to find her . In her search, she finds a neglected baby that she is determined to save . But i
Cathrine ☯️
Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cathrine ☯️ by: Angela M's review.
Shelves: favorites
"I was a foot from the shotgun now and knew I could reach it in time if he lunged. I believed I could turn it on him and squeeze the trigger, too—that I would be able to shoot him down right there in the room if he changed his mind.”

Yep, you and me both Percy. It’s true. This kind of story can bring out the worst in the reader. Go on Shelton, keep on inhaling that nitrous until you don’t ever wake up. See? And you thought I was such I nice woman who likes to drink wine and use smiley face e
Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The existential ramblings between a meth head named Shelton and some stoned guy driving to his gig as a Roy Orbison impersonator shot this little story up to a four star rating and held it there. The meth head, a brutal dealer who loves his girlfriend, her baby, and his dead dog sucks nitrous oxide repeatedly from little party balloons and leaves their bright carcasses strewn about his Chevy pick-up like confetti after the carnival has left town.

Shelton later converses with a colleague about how
Dec 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2016
I really enjoyed this excellent debut novel by Travis Mulhauser. Think of it as "Winter's Bone" light - a teen-aged girl heads off in a Northern Michigan blizzard into the backwoods to hunt down her meth-addicted mother. Her journey and the characters she encounters along the way make this one truly special. I devoured this is less than a day.

Highly recommend.
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss, reviewed
I thought this well-written, rural-noir thriller was really terrific. I had never heard of the author before, but I would be happy to read what he writes next. Set in northern Michigan during a blizzard, the book is alternately exciting, touching, funny, sad and tragic and would make a really good movie.

Fifteen year old Percy goes to find her drug addict mother in a meth house, and instead finds Shelton (the drug dealer's nephew) and Shelton's girlfriend Kayla, who are both passed out in a drugg
Aug 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
They were tears of grief, but somehow the hurt was clean and not polluted for once with his own shame and guilt.

I adored the writing in Sweetgirl, it was gritty, sweet, funny and dreamlike all at the same time. I've tried thinking what I can compare it to, but absolutely nothing comes to mind. I can find no fault with this novel at all, the characters will break your heart. The author has the amazing ability to show that even "bad" people have good intentions and thoughts, and that we should not
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
4.5 This was excellent! If you liked Winter's Bone you will like this book. I look forward to more by this author.
This was ok.
I mean, I didn't hate it.
I also didn't like it overly well.
I've come to the conclusion I like my gritty lit aimed toward adults, not at youths*.
There's also the possibility that this came across poorly in the audio format. I was not a fan of either reader (one for Percy and one for Shelton) and, also, I'm not sure this was meant to be read aloud. It just doesn't lend itself to a verbal telling, what with all the dialog being made of "She said" and "He said" and such. That
Dec 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Travis Mulhauser's "Sweetgirl" is a beautiful, gritty story in which the characters are just as relentless and powerful as the landscape their story takes place in -- a landscape that turns out to be a central character, in and of itself.

Percy is a fascinating and beautiful character whose strength was extraordinary. I was blown away by how deeply I found myself immersed in her and Jenna's story. I could not stop reading -- I had to know what was in the next chapter, on the next page, in the ne
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 and I loved this book.

This is the story of Percy, a teenage girl far beyond her years in maturity who seems to always be taking care of the house and her mama, Carletta. Carletta is hooked on alcohol, meth and anything else she can get her hands on. With Carletta gone for several days and a fast approaching blizzard, Percy wants to find her mother and get her to a safe place. So, Percy heads to the house of the local meth dealer, Shelton Potter, to see if Carletta has crashed there. What she
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A whirlwind plot, a likeable protagonist searching for a better way and a slew of lost causes makes this a book that's hard to put down. Parts remind me of Winter's Bone and American Rust. Great debut novel that's got some extreme grit. A lot happens in 24-36 hours, to say the least.
Percy James is used to her mother disappearing, but something unspoken urges her to go off in search for her, despite the approaching blizzard. Shelton Potter is the maker and dealer of the local methamphetamine trade and his house is her first stop. She doesn’t find her mother but she does find a baby, laying in front of an open window as the snow begins to pile on top of her. Not knowing what to do but knowing she can’t leave the baby, she bundles her up and begins a tragic excursion through a ...more
Sonja Arlow
This is a small little book with a very big heart.

Sunday was rainy and unseasonably cold which was perfect reading weather but combined with the vivid descriptions of show, blizzards and frost bite in this novel it had me making too many cups of hot chocolate to count.

The writing was absolutely wonderful and the story felt effortless. I found myself holding my breath almost the whole way through because everything felt like a tragedy just waiting to happen.

This is a community that all carry the
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
I had been wanting to read this book since I read the sample months ago. It did not disappoint.
Percy James is a character I won't soon forget. She is only 16 years old when she goes looking for her drug addicted Mom. In a meth house, she finds a baby near an open window on a snowy night. I was hooked from the beginning. Everyone in the drug house is passed out cold, so she sneaks out into a snowstorm with the baby girl in tow. Along the way we meet Portis, a rough around the edges guy with a so
Percy James is a sixteen year old high school dropout, working at a local woodworking store to try and pay the rent as her drug-addict mother has fallen off the wagon, disappearing for weeks at a time and leaving her to fend for herself. When she finds out that her mother was last seen at a meth-house, she becomes determined to retrieve her. A snowstorm forces her to abandon her truck and walk, and when she gets there, she doesn't find her mother, but a baby, freezing next to an open window and ...more
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's just nothing I love more than a hard-scrabble young protagonist plunked down in the midst of a crisis in a trashy setting. This book gave it all with a gut punch of a storyline to boot. Percy is 16, in search of her meth-addict mother, when she happens upon a different sort of rescue. Throw in a father-like drunk, an incompetent drug dealer and a terrifying blizzard, and I found myself a winner.

I love how fast-paced and immediate the story felt as Percy seemed to tell her story directly
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is just what I needed to read at just the right time. Not at all what I expected going in but what a lovely tale this is. I kid you not, I was choked up one minute and laughing out loud the next. How many books can successfully pull that off?

Salvation comes in many forms within this story. Percy is a 16-going-on-40 year old girl trapped in the sadly common position of being caretaker to her addict/alcoholic mother. Baby Jenna is an infant suffering neglect by her own mother. This tiny baby
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A blizzard is predicted to hit Cutler County in Northern Michigan. Fearing for the safety of her mother, Carlotta, sixteen year old Percy James heads for Shelton Potter's, a local meth dealer's cabin. Carletta is an addict, and her behavior is unpredictable, yet Percy loves her for the moments she is sober and kind. When she arrives at the cabin, Shelton and his girlfriend are passed out cold. Searching for her mother she discovers an infant left by an open window covered in snow. Not knowing wh ...more
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sixteen-year-old Percy James is compelled to search for her drug-addicted mother who’s been missing for days... again. After a friend tells Percy that he saw her at her meth dealer Shelton Potter’s cabin, Percy heads out to the woods as a blizzard is moving in. Percy finds Potter and his girlfriend passed out but sees no sign of her mother. When she heads upstairs, she finds a dirty, helpless, hungry baby in a room with snow blowing in on her. Percy makes a life-altering decision to take the bab ...more
Emily Dings
Oct 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is beautiful, suspenseful, and affecting. I read it in one cross-country flight. Protagonist Percy James navigates a northern Michigan blizzard and an orgy of destruction among a small town's inhabitants in order to save a neglected baby and find her own drug-ravaged mother. Support comes in the hilarious form of vigilante Portis Dale, Percy's favorite of her mother's exes.

Mulhauser's language is subtle, lyrical, and darkly humorous. Some descriptions took my breath away, and will sti
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: debut-novels
A wonderful debut novel. Kept me hooked from beginning to end. It was one of the most atmospheric books I've read in a long time.
Lori L (She Treads Softly)

Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser is a highly recommended debut novel of suspense set during a blizzard in Northern Michigan. Read this one with a blanket and a warm beverage nearby.

Percy James, 16, drives off to try and find her meth addicted mother, Carletta, just as a blizzard bears down on the northern Michigan woods. Percy checks out the cabin of known cooker and dealer Sheldon Potter. After having to abandon her truck a mile or so from the house, Percy sets off on foot. When she arrives she do
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to sappho_reader by: karen
It's refreshing to read Grit Lit placed outside of the typical South/Ozark region of the United States. Don't get me wrong, I love the South but this is a book that takes place in my neck of the woods for a change. Travis Mulhauser paints a pretty accurate picture of Northern Michigan with the influx of wealthy summer tourists and the cherry harvests and fudge factories. At the northern tip of The Glove in the middle of a blizzard Percy finds a baby in a meth cabin and takes it for safe keeping. ...more
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Tournament of Books: This topic has been closed to new comments. Sweetgirl 9 71 Aug 25, 2016 02:35PM  
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Travis Mulhauser was born and raised in Northern Michigan. His novel, Sweetgirl, (Ecco/Harper Collins) has been listed for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, was an Indie Next Pick, and named one of Ploughshares Best Books of the New Year. He is also the author of Greetings from Cutler County: A Novella and Stories. Travis received his MFA in Fiction from UNC-Greensboro and is also a prou ...more
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