Winner of the 2022 Big Moose Prize.
DOWN HERE WE COME UP is about three women who have lost connection with their children, through alienation, adoption, and across a militarized border. Their lives intersect in a “safe house” for migrant workers outside of Wilmington, North Carolina in 2006..
From her deathbed, con-artist Jackie Jessup lures home her estranged 26-year-old daughter Kate Jessup. There, Kate meets former teacher Maribel Reyes, who is separated from her family in Ciudad Juárez. While none of these women trust each other, they do have a chance to get back what they have each lost. But they must rely on each other to hatch a perilous plan Kate doubts could ever work. She knows to distrust the motives behind any of her mother’s plans. Something unseen is smoldering underneath the surface. Kate just needs to figure it out.
As the three women work alongside each other, the evils of human trafficking, the lucrative lure of the drug and weapons trade, and the heartbreak of people fleeing their homelands flow through Jackie’s bungalow day and night.
A story of mothers and daughters, lost children, and broken love, Down Here We Come Up, takes a raw and intimate look at flawed people who are trying to make up for lost time and past miscalculations.
Sara Johnson Allen was raised (mostly) in North Carolina. Her fiction has appeared in PANK Magazine, SmokeLong Quarterly, and Reckon Review. She was recently awarded runner-up in the 2022 Third Coast fiction contest. In 2018, she was awarded the Marianne Russo Award for Emerging Writers by the Key West Literary Seminar for her novel-in-progress. In 2019, she received the Stockholm Writers Festival First Pages Prize. She has also been awarded MacDowell fellowships and an artistic grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation. When she is not grading papers or chasing after her three kids, she likes to write about 'place' and how it shapes us.