University of Vermont

Vermont Quarterly

Stealthy Story

The Sisters Chase book cover


Stealthy Story

For an author, having The New York Times review your book is both thrilling and threatening. Consider Sarah Enderlin Healy’s state of mind when her agent texted that the anxiously awaited review was live. Driving home from work, Healy ’99 waited until she stopped in the driveway to pull up the Times and scroll through the critic’s verdict.

First sentence: “Sarah Healy’s thoroughly surprising new novel…” Well, that’s a promising start.

Then, a couple of paragraphs down, this: “In an era of inflationary cheap praise, in which every run-of-the-mill thriller is advertised as some sort of Nobel-worthy combination of Shakespeare, Scott Turow and, inevitably, Gone Girl, The Sisters Chase is that rare thing, a slow burner that conceals its cunning and sneaks up on you unawares.”

As she finished reading the glowing review, Healy stood in her driveway and cried with happiness, satisfaction, and relief. 

The Sisters Chase (Houghton Mifflin) is Healy’s third novel, following 2012’s Can I Get an Amen? and 2014’s House of Wonder. From her own perspective, it is by far her best work. “I feel like this represents me as a matured writer, shows what I can do and where I’d like to continue to go,” she says. 

Family, rich with intricate and intriguing dynamics, has been a consistent theme through all of Healy’s books.  

As the title suggests, The Sisters Chase is rooted in Healy’s interest in writing about that particular familial relationship. The two sisters in the book have a fourteen-year age gap, similar to Healy and her two older sisters, Jen and Erin. “Growing up, they seemed omnipotent and amazing, and terrifying in some ways. But just all-powerful, and I worshipped them,” Healy says. “So, I wanted to explore that in fiction and was ruminating on it for a while.” 

Rumination plus imagination led her to an alluring hook that keeps the pages turning. We won’t spoil it. 

Also rooted in family, Healy’s impulse to write. When she was pregnant with her first child she felt a motivation to “start getting things down on paper.” Inspired by writers like David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs, personal essay was where she started, written for her own amusement and shared within her family. 

Healy’s sister Jen, with the wisdom of a long career in publishing, saw her talent and told her she should tackle a novel.  Quietly, Sarah Healy took the challenge. The result was a will-never-again-see-the-light-of-day manuscript. Panned by both herself and sister Jen, Healy tucked it back in the desk drawer and persisted. Guided by a constant regard for her readers and the imperative to hold their interest, her next effort was published. And Healy feels she has improved with each book since: “I’ve learned to write books by writing books.” 

For everyone with artistic dreams stymied by daily realities, Healy is an inspiration. She juggles full-time work as chief of sales and marketing for Commando, a Vermont-based women’s undergarment company. She and her husband, Dennis, a St. Michael’s College grad and graphic designer, have three kids, ages eleven, eight, and six. 

Healy carves out her time to write late in the evening, in bed and under the covers with the glow of her laptop. Asked how she finds the energy and the discipline, Healy says, “I love writing. I love it. The hard part is kissing my kids good night and going into my room. But once I’m there, I really never mind it. Even if it isn’t going the way that I want it to, even if I’m struggling with a scene. Those are always really pleasurable hours.”


Kristina Jacobsen ’00, professor of ethnomusicology at the University of New Mexico, has published The Sound of Navajo Country: Music, Language, and Dine Belonging (University of North Carolina Press). Via multiple first-person accounts from the vibrant Navajo country music scene, Jacobsen explores questions of Indigenous identity and performance. 

Reverend Daniel Kanter ’89 is the author of Faith for the Unbeliever (Skinner House Books). Rev. Kanter is senior minister at First Unitarian Church of Dallas, Texas. His stories and reflections revolve around belief, trust, loyalty, and worldview to make faith more accessible to those who count themselves among the “spiritual but not religious.” 

Robert Manning, professor emeritus in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, teams with his wife and stalwart hiking companion, Martha, for another guide for on-foot explorers, Walks of a Lifetime: Extraordinary Hikes from Around the World (Falcon). The roving Mannings, now home in Arizona post-retirement, recount hikes from Maine to New Zealand, Italy to Japan, thirty of the world’s great trails. 

Bill Schubart ’68 has published his seventh work of fiction, Lila & Theron (Charles Michael Publishing). Readers of Schubart’s 2008 collection, The Lamoille Stories, will recognize the lead characters in the new novel set in twentieth-century rural America. Schubart, familiar to many as a Vermont Public Radio commentator, grew up in a northern Vermont French-Canadian family rich in stories.

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