"Rescue Plan" by Stephanie Barbé Hammer

  • "Rescue Plan" by Stephanie Barbé Hammer

In the New England town of Narrow Interior, 15 year old cancer survivor Gomer Faithcutt prepares for the practical Junior Life Saving Test while exploring both his own sexuality and the spectral secrets of a forgotten religious sect that once flourished in the town. As his father worries about his son’s health, Gomer learns about desire, friendship, and self-preservation. He glimpses who he can become because of (or despite?) his parents and forges a surprising connection with a mysterious neighbor.


Gomer Faithcutt is a gentle hero and a noble survivor. He likes swimming and he likes boys and he also likes girls and he needs his father to get back to painting and he needs to stop lying about himself. Most of all, he needs to pass the test to become a junior lifeguard. In Rescue Plan, Stephanie Barbé Hammer gives us a delightful tale of friendship and strength and just a splash of magic, all bundled together with warmth and plain talk that feels exactly like wisdom.
—Ana Maria Spagna, UPLAKE
In Gomer Faithcutt, the protagonist of Rescue Plan, Stephanie Barbé Hammer has captured all the disorienting, funny, resilient, multi-faceted, wise beyond one’s years, awkward complexity of being a 15 year old in 2020. Both Gomer and the world he inhabits- the aptly named New England town of Narrow Interior- elude neat descriptions and categories: they are self-contained and expansive, conservative and cosmopolitan, populated by nice old ladies and philanthropic celebrity billionaires, and troubled by intolerant histories and uncertain futures. In a queer coming of age story that eschews so many of the tropes of the queer coming of age story, Rescue Plan shows a young man reckoning with the distance between dreams and reality, between the desire to rescue others and the necessity to put on your own life jacket first.
—Christopher Records, author of Care: Stories
Rescue Plan is a gorgeously written and relevant magical story about Gomer, a 15 year-old protagonist who we immediately love and root for as he begins to come of age – unpacking his bisexual identity but also connections to the historical past of the town of Narrow Interior in characters only he can see.  We immediately relate to his quest to find his unique strengths under the backdrop of a cancer remission and through his childhood loss of his mother.  This book is a delightful, engaging must-read for adults and young adults and will leave you craving to know more about where Gomer’s unfolding journeys might take him next and who he might further become.
—Marie Hartung, National Bisexual Book Award Judge and author
Stephanie Barbé Hammer’s stories are often strange, and always a delight. Rescue Plan tugs at the film between this world and the shadow of its past inhabitants, and wades through the waters of sickness, health, faith, and self-determination. I am in love with the clip of this story, with the protagonist Gomer Faithcutt – a boy who knows (and sees) things – and the way Hammer has rendered his interior landscape. I love that she grafts together anabaptists ghosts and a queer teen as each search, not necessarily for salvation, but for the rites of passage that will allow them to become themselves.
—Samantha Updegrave, essayist


Trailer for Rescue Plan by Stephanie Barbé Hammer. Artwork by Dennis Callaci.

...she seldom fails to move me to tears, make me laugh out loud or more frequently, be haunted as I digest her poems or narratives. I have been tricked into thinking many of her works are small one act knee plays while reading them in real time, only to ponder their enormity for days afterwards.

From Shrimper, review by Dennis Callaci

January 11, 2021

I’m a big proponent of having a lot of short reads in the teen library. Placing novelettes on their own racks and spinners encourages readers to shop. But it also makes available good stories for students learning English and teens who are intimidated by longer work. “Rescue Plan” is published by the indie publisher Bamboo Dart Press and is available for purchase from their website or on Amazon. It’s a different read than the typical short novel for teens such as those from Orca. While I love the availability of those books, this fifty-page indie read is a chance to add something more edgy and more magical to the collection. It’s a more mature read that will appeal to the teen LGBTQ community as well.

From School Library Lady, review by Victoria Waddle

February 15, 2021

Stephanie Barbé Hammer


Stephanie Barbé Hammer is a 6-time Pushcart Prize nominee in fiction, nonfiction and poetry with work published in The Bellevue Literary Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, Pearl, the James Franco Review, Isthmus, Cafe Irreal, and the Gold Man Review. She is the author of the prose poem chapbook SEX WITH BUILDINGS (dancing girl press), the full-length collection HOW FORMAL? (Spout Hill Press), the fabulist novel THE PUPPET TURNERS OF NARROW INTERIOR (Urban Farmhouse Press), and the craft of writing magical realism manual, DELICIOUS STRANGENESS (Spout Hill Press). Originally from Manhattan, Stephanie lived in Southern California for 30 years. She is managing editor of SHARK REEF Literary Magazine and sits on the advisory board of WRITERS BLOC Los Angeles.

Twitter: stephaniebarbeh

Facebook: @stephamm

Instagram: @stephaniebhammer

Website: www.stephaniehammer.net

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