Winner of the Connecticut Press Club 2016 Communications Award for Best Novel for Adults
from Penmore Press
"Orla's Canvas is a lyrical, poignant story of a young talented girl coming of age in the dawning Civil Rights era in the South. Orla's art is her window on the world, a world she valiantly struggles to make sense of. More than once, I thought of another southern girl, this one named Scout. For good reason; Orla's Canvas is an American classic for our times." James R. Benn, author of the Acclaimed Billy Boyle Series.
“Orla is certainly an extension of/companion to Mockingbird. Orla’s voice is necessary in understanding that piece of our national narrative.” Janet Parlato, Ed.D University of Pennsylvania
"Taking as her canvas the Civil Rights era in Louisiana, Mary Donnarumma Sharnick tells the affecting story of Orla, a remarkable young heroine with the soul of an artist. The novel is both a gripping look into a historic moment in American culture, and a poignant coming of age story readers won't forget." — Chantel Acevedo, author of The Distant Marvels.
"In Orla's Canvas, Mary Donnarumma Sharnick, paints a luminous portrait of a small Louisiana town struggling with the need to change. Young Orla views the world with the sensitivity and sensibility of the painter that she is, looking long and hard at the people she often loves but does not understand. Sharnick writes unstintingly about race and class and the violence we perpetuate in both large and small ways every day. Ultimately, though, this story, Orla’s story, is about the great power of love and art. Read this book and be prepared to have your heart and soul expanded." — Rachel Basch, author of The Listener
"Refusing her characters, and her readers, the option of keeping the past locked in the past, Sharnick instead suggests that yesterday’s story bleeds into and informs today’s, and her novel would make an excellent addition to a classroom study of the period, not in place of nonfiction texts, but as a way for high school students to begin to explore the ways in which historical events shaped and continue to shape our senses of self." -Emma Paine, M.S. Library and Information Science, Simmons College
"Orla's Canvas is the vibrant, engrossing story of a young artist coming of age during the violent upheaval of the civil rights era in the deep South. With understated intensity and elegant lyricism, Donnarumma Sharnick brings her characters to life as authentic human beings, with flaws and virtues alike. The young narrator’s journey in search of the redemptive power of art is resonant and compelling." -Joan Lownds, author of Man Overboard