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Return to Abo
A Novel by Sharon Niederman
Named a 2006 Willa Award Finalist by Women Writing the West

"Returt to Abo" painting by Jane Maclean

Cover art for book jacket: Jane Maclean

University of New Mexico Press — Spring 2005
Cover Illustration: Jane Maclean
Cover Design: Kathleen Sparkes
ISBN 0-8263-3720-1
Order by phone 1-800-249-7737
Order online at

Following a professional crisis, San Francisco journalist Maggie Chilton is called home to the drought-stricken New Mexico ranching village of Monte Alto. The death of her beloved surrogate father, ranch hand Elias Romero, triggers her re-engagement with the people and places she fled following high school graduation: her tough rancher mother, Lucy Chilton; her former boyfriend, Roger Dawson, now mayor, trying to save Monte Alto through development; Tommie Herrera, the best friend who betrayed her, now grieving the loss of her son; and Ivy McGrath, the retired English teacher turned feisty newspaper editor. Against the harsh beauty of the landscape and the memories it holds, Maggie re-encounters the forces that shaped her as three generations of women — Maggie, her mother and her estranged teenage daughter, Hannah — struggle to make peace with each other and the land they love.

Sneak a Peek

Owing to brisk sales, after only ten weeks on the market, Return to Abo has already gone into a second edition.

The Buzz — Critical Praise for Return to Abo

“This is an excellent first novel that brings to life the modern day struggle of three generations of women to hold on to traditional ways…”

— Roundup Magazine of Western Writers of America, Fall, 2005

“Niederman’s writing is clean; her pacing is unflagging, and her attitude is often refreshingly unsticky…What she does well is to create a setting that lives up to [the] longing to regain a sense of place…And that’s sufficient to make Return to Abo a pleasing read.”

— Tucson Weekly, August 18, 2005

"Sharon Niederman's first novel has the makings of a New Mexico classic…[It] is sure to satisfy readers…Reading this novel is like the return to a place that may have changed but, like its inhabitants, still keeps its heart."

— New Mexico Magazine, August, 2005

“Niederman’s experience in writing…is apparent in the way she manages to portray real people in an equally convincing setting. She also succeeds in creating page-turning tension around Maggie and her high school sweetheart.”

Boulder Daily Camera

“Niederman has a gift for sharply drawn, realistic characters…Her love for New Mexico and its people comes through on every page.”

Las Cruces Sun-News

“It’s the durable senior citizens who gain Niederman’s great affection and who give richness to her well-detailed story. As a novelist, she is a fine reporter…she’s got a promising future interpreting the joys and sorrows of small town life.”

Albuquerque Journal

“What a read! Sharon Niederman has a real genius for illuminating the lives of individuals seeking one last shot at redemption in a landscape that demands too much. This book will quickly work its way up the list of New Mexico classics, but more significantly, Niederman has given us a global tale, one of place and displacement, where love and hope somehow persist whenever people dare to call a place ‘home.’”

Demetria Martinez, author, Mother Tongue

“This is a wonderfully researched, lived in and revelatory novel. I fully believe that it is important to the state of New Mexico and beyond. It is the rare book that fits and is truly important to every age group.”

Max Evans, author The Rounders, Hi Lo Country and Madam Millie

Return to Abo is a realistic and convincing novel. In the character of Lucy Chilton, Sharon Niederman portrays the true spirit and tenacity of the women of the rural Southwest. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.”

Linda Davis, CS Ranch, Cimarron, New Mexico

“I don’t think I’ve ever read anything so real about New Mexico. Niederman gets the land, the people, the talk, the issues, the places and how they look and smell and how warm and true they are. Her powers of observation and her deep empathy and love of New Mexico ring through without a dropped note or missed step. Anyone who loves New Mexico must read this book.”

V.B. Price, author The City at the End of the World and The Oddity, columnist, Albuquerque Tribune

Feb. 20, 2005 — Return to Abo Book Tour

On Feb. 20th, 2005, Sharon kicked off her state-wide book tour at Bookworks in Albuquerque.

Feb. 18, 2005 — Return to Abo Interview

Albuquerque Tribune Reporter, Carrie Seidman spent some time chatting with Sharon Niederman about her enthralling new novel. Read the article. Just out from University of New Mexico Press, Return to Abo, Sharon Niedrman’s compelling and absorbing first novel was immediately ranked as the #2 best-selling work of fiction the week of Feb. 10 in the weekly list compiled by Bookworks, a popular Albuquerque independent bookstore.

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