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“…A bold and searing memoir about family and violence, illness and independence, pain and fear and beauty..."

—Patrick Radden Keefe, New York Times bestselling author on WOMEN WE BURIED WOMEN WE BURNED ("One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2023 by Publisher’s Weekly, Bookpage, Bookclubs and Goodreads, and will be excerpted in the New Yorker in April.") 

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A Memoir


Acclaimed author of No Visible Bruises, Rachel Louise Snyder's piercing account of her journey from teenage runaway to reporter on the global epidemic of violence against women.


Award-winning journalist Rachel Louise Snyder has spent her career reporting on abuse and violence around the globe. For decades, she has focused on others’ stories over her own. Now, in Women We Buried, Women We Burned, Snyder offers her own origin story of loss and survival after her mother’s early death and the drastic changes that followed alter the course of her life forever. With honesty and lyricism, this astonishing new memoir illuminates the collective nature of grief, faith and love, with Snyder offering an eternal nod to the social issues that have become her life’s work.


Snyder was eight years old when her mother died, and her grief-stricken father thrust the family into an evangelical, cult-like existence halfway across the country. Her rebellion against this was boundless: she runs away, she is expelled from both school and home. Living out of her car and relying on strangers, she finds herself masquerading as an adult, cycling through jobs with a desperation born of terror. She talks her way into college and winds up on a twenty-six thousand mile trip around the world by boat, where for the first time she meets people who have survived unthinkable terrors. Snyder eventually moves to Cambodia and watches an entire country reckon with the horrors of its own recent history, as she discovers a new way to think about her past, and her future.

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Written with a storyteller's gift for immediacy, and weaving the personal with the universal, Women We Buried, Women We Burned is an urgent story of family struggle, human survival, and the passionate drive to bear witness.


Rachel Louise Snyder is the author of Fugitive Denim, the novel What We’ve Lost is Nothing, and No Visible Bruises, winner of the Lukas Work-in-Progress Award from the Columbia School of Journalism, the Hillman Prize for Book Journalism, and the Helen Bernstein Book Award. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Slate, and elsewhere. A 2020-2021 Guggenheim Fellow, Snyder is a Professor of Creative Writing and Journalism at American University. She lives in Washington, DC.


Advance Praise for Women We Buried, Women We Burned


“How do you write a book about overcoming extreme hardship, about the singular people who convince you to take a chance on yourself, about finding the big world after a childhood that prepared you for a tiny one, about discovering that you love the people who failed to love you - and manage not to strike a single trite note? How do you remember every detail and make the reader feel like they saw, heard, and felt each moment? I have no idea, actually, but Rachel Louise Snyder has done it.” –Masha Gessen, National Book Award winning author of The Future Is History, and Surviving Autocracy


“A bold and searing memoir about family and violence, illness and independence, pain and fear and beauty. With wry humor and enormous humanity, Rachel Louise Snyder shows us how to summon ‘the courage to imagine’ in a cruel and dangerous world. A beautiful book.” Patrick Radden Keefe, New York Times bestselling author of Rogues, Empire of Pain, and Say Nothing 

“With the same virtuosity and eye for detail she brought to No Visible Bruises, Rachel Louise Snyder uses her own story to illuminate the many divides that plague America, from class and culture wars to toxic religiosity and frayed family ties. Women We Buried, Women We Burned is a gorgeous memoir that parses the patriarchy with an endearing frankness as fierce as it is, astonishingly, forgiving.” —Beth Macy, New York Times bestselling author of Raising Lazarus and Dopesick 


“Bravery and honesty are the cornerstone of the memoir, but Snyder adds to this—generosity.  This is a compassionate telling of a sometimes brutal story. Women We Buried, Women We Burned reminds me of opera, with its beautiful sadness and artistic triumph.  The hope contained on these pages is hard won, and all the more precious due to the struggles from which it emerges.” —Tayari Jones, New York Times bestselling author of An American Marriage 


“With a journalist’s keen eye and a novelist’s elegant prose, Rachel Louise Snyder delivers an unsentimental and bone-deep observational memoir of death and family, class and history, East and West, and politics and travel; at the center of each story is a reaffirmation of human survival as an art of triumph." —Suki Kim, New York Times bestselling author of Without You, There Is No Us 


“A harrowing story of survival that also brims with warmth, wit and insight, this memoir has the propulsive force of a novel, driven by a spirit of compassion and curiosity that will not be broken.” —Jessica Bruder, New York Times bestselling author of Nomadland 


“With wonderfully evocative prose, Rachel Louise Snyder captures here the stark horror of a child losing her mother and half her roots as she’s then swept into her evangelical father’s second family and has to either flee or be erased. As nakedly honest as it is fair, what is so remarkable about Women We Buried, Women We Burned is that Ms. Snyder does flee, and her lone voyage to her very self is the voyage of so many girls and women around the world who have been uprooted and cast aside and must find their own way back. This is an important and profoundly moving memoir, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.” – Andre Dubus III, New York Times bestselling author of Townie, and Such Kindness


”A propulsive, clear-eyed, and stunning memoir about transformation, self-discovery, and the journey we go on when we decide that yes, we want to do more than simply survive; we want to thrive. Women We Buried, Women We Burned is a revelation.” —Chelsea Bieker, author of Heartbroke and Godshot 

“A gorgeous and radiantly honest book, brilliant in its ability to capture the way grief reverberates across a lifetime. Rather than force trauma into a false closure, Snyder transforms it into a radical openness and ability to connect.” —Danielle Evans, author of The Office of Historical Corrections 


“As stunning as it is powerful, Women We Buried, Women We Burned is a tour-de-force memoir of family, faith, love, loss, resilience, and, ultimately, redemption. With deftness and grace, Snyder navigates the complicated terrain of childhood trauma and presents a model for how to reconcile with the ghosts of your past.” —Monica West, author of Revival Season

“A profoundly moving and layered memoir. Snyder’s story connects on so many levels because she writes honestly about traumas, forgiveness, and the hard work it takes to build a life. A truly stunning book that will broaden hearts and minds, and also educate and inspire.” —Loung Ung, author of First They Killed My Father 

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