Book by Local Author Wins One Read Vote

The Ruins of Us

Author Keija Parssinen’s first novel and One Read 2013 winner “The Ruins of Us” is set in the country of her childhood, nowhere near her current home in Columbia, Missouri. She was born in Saudi Arabia and lived there for 12 years as a third-generation expatriate. She draws on her experiences and knowledge of the Saudi Arabian culture to write this intimate and suspenseful family drama.

Parssinen is currently the Director of the Quarry Heights Writers’ Workshop, a community for Columbia’s creative writers. She earned a degree in English literature from Princeton University and received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she held a Truman Capote Fellowship and a Teaching-Writing Fellowship.

Earlier this year, readers submitted more than 140 book suggestions. The reading panel helped narrow the list to the two finalists and people voted for their preferred title for this year’s One Read selection. “The Call” by Yannick Murphy was the other book in the running this year.

“Both books were great choices,” said Doyne McKenzie, One Read co-chair and Daniel Boone Regional Library (DBRL) Collections Manager. “The winner shares a couple of similarities with last year’s book. It’s also a first novel for the author and it takes place in the author’s birth country.” Last year’s book “The Tiger’s Wife” written by Téa Obreht was in a war-torn Balkan country. Obreht was born in Yugoslavia.

Sally Abromovich, One Read co-chair and DBRL librarian, added, “But the stories are completely different. This one deals with dynamics within a family that we can all relate to, even though it’s set on the other side of the world. Each year the One Read book is different in some way. We are thrilled that this year, for the first time, it is by a local author!”

Multiple copies of the book are now available for check out at each Daniel Boone Regional Library location—Callaway County Public Library, Columbia Public Library and Southern Boone County Public Library—on the bookmobile and available through the library’s eBook service at

The volunteer community task force is now working on related programming for September. “Settings in other countries always open up a wealth of program opportunities,” said Lauren Williams, One Read co-chair and DBRL librarian. “I expect that we’ll get the opportunity to learn more about the area’s music, art and culture.”

One Read, now in its twelfth year, is a community-wide reading program coordinated by Daniel Boone Regional Library and cosponsored by a task force of local businesses, agencies, academic institutions and other groups that encourages adults of all ages to read and discuss a single book.

More information about submitted titles and related One Read topics can be found at

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