My published books include Swimming Middle River, White Knight Escort Service, Raising St. Elisabeth, You Don’t Know Who You Are Until You’ve Gone Too Far, and Catawampus in Sweetgum County .
I was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and over 75 of my stories have appeared in literary journals. My stories explore journeys toward autonomy and the boundaries placed on the individual by society, family, and self. Themes of grief and incarceration also appear in my writing. A majority of my work is in the Coming of Age genre and is featured in both adult literarty and Middle Grade fiction.
Moreover, I have written fiction and non-fiction pieces about mental health. I have been recruited for multiple interviews to speak about mental health and writing. Contact me if your are looking for a writer or speaker regarding mental health awareness.
I am an adjunct lecturer and certified online instructor in the English department at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. This is also where I earned my B.A. in English and my M.F.A. in Creative Writing.
Learn More at Awards and Accolades.
You can also learn about me at my author’s page on Secret Attic.
What Others Have to Say:
Catawampus in Sweetgum County – Solitude is also a common theme in the collection. Although Sweetgum County appears a tight community, many of its residents are desperately lonely. In ‘Spooning’, Nancy, alone after her husband of 35 years has absconded with a younger woman, replaces physical intimacy with ice cream. ‘Let Your Uglies Take Root’ uses Kafka, Boo Radley and Nirvana to highlight the isolating effects of bullying. In ‘Most Marriages Performed’, solitude is more ambiguous: ‘Moira and David had a renewal of their wedding night… blissfully alone in their union’.
— Daniel, Briefly Write https://brieflywrite.com/2022/04/03/review-catawampus-in-sweetgum-county/
You Don’t Know Who You Are Until You’ve Gone Too Far – The characters in this collection go too far and put up with more than they should, but, almost without fail, each one gains some small understanding, some peace, and is able to move forward even if only by inches. It is that forward movement. which provides hope found in the collection.”
— Mary Troy, author of Swimming Hwy N, Beauties, and Joe Baker is Dead
You Don’t Know Who You Are Until You’ve Gone Too Far – These heart-rending tales expose the worst parts of self-discovery and the worst displays of human nature. From emotional prisons to real confinement, we feel the characters’ pain as each tale brings a tear to the eye.
— Dean Persho, BooksBoys Podcast and Radio Show
You Don’t Know Who You Are Until You’ve Gone Too Far – Sackett reads as if Stephen King and Alice Munro had a child and Margaret Atwood were her fairy godmother. These tales of unfortunate events, trauma and grief with beams of hope stay with the reader forever.
— P.J. Bourke, Books Boys Podcast and Radio show
You Don’t Know Who You Are Until You’ve Gone Too Far – Sackett traverses the depths and heights of the human experience, wrapping words around unspeakable acts, expressing emotions most prefer to ignore, and crafting provocative stories that inspire deep reflection. Leah’s powerful, engaging writing is cause for celebration for readers everywhere.
— Elizabeth Ann Atkins, CEO, Two Sisters Writing & Publishing
Raising St. Elisabeth – “What seems like a story of pioneer times quickly turns into a mystical tale that takes you through all the seven deadly sins as we watch the main character St. Elisabeth come of age. Her special gift stirs greed and envy in those around her. As characters are tempted and a good vs evil battle emerges the other sins surface. Symbols that seem virtuous are revealed to be a sign of evil. You root for St. Elisabeth to find her way. Engrossing to the end.” – Lisa Lauter, Amazon Review
White Knight Escort Service – “This book follows through on its boast of a collection of ‘Through the Looking Glass’ type stories. It’s been some years since I’ve read the original ‘Alice in Wonderland’ novels, but ‘White Knight Escort Service’ definitely took me back to them. In each of the twelve individual stories, the author transports us into a day in the live of a different young person.
No two tales have similar arrangements. The collection encompasses different genders, as well as characters raised by two parents, a single parent, or other persons. But it is the other circumstances that really make each story stands out. You have the stories of positive childhoods and abusive childhoods, those robbed by disease or misfortune, that of the love-struck and even that of the bully and bullied.
The most whimsical tale is the first, which has the most obvious ‘Alice’ vibes. It was a great way to start off the collection and to be honest, I expected the others not to hold up. While the rest may not be as clear in that atmosphere, to my delight, they were all perfectly entertaining.
I can’t pinpoint a single favorite because so many of the stories touched on some of my own experiences growing up. There is ‘A Birdcage Nests Within’ which shows a depressed mother whose child bears the bitter end of her illness; ‘The Lord’s Table, Reservations Required’ tells of a young girl who desperately wishes to be close to God; and ‘I Can See Your Wings’ is about a disabled teen on crutches trying to be normal and free.
That’s all I can say about them without spoiling anything, but suffice it to say that the emotions, thoughts, and subtleties of the storylines that Leah Holbrook Sackett weaved in are incredible. So much detail and realism. Also incorporated are casual or subtle inclusion of diverse persons.
Another interesting thing about the book is that the author has formatted the stories differently. There is a story written as diary entries, one switches focused POV between mother and child, one incorporates notes, some are first person and some are third, etc… It feels that the author knew exactly which approach to use for each story to invoke the proper response.
A must read for lovers of literary fiction, contemporary fiction, coming of age, and…well, just readers in general, to be honest.” – Sahreth “Baphy” Bowden, Amazon Review
“In this issue, we feel the wound of Leah Holbrook Sackett’s What Doesn’t Fall Apart Gets Broken, a thought-piece on souls.” – Gregory Glanz of MacroMicroCosm
“The story, What The Looking Glass Reflects, is soul chilling and marvelous. I would publish it twice if I could.” – Vivienne McLemore of Zany Zygote Review.
“In her captivating vignette, “Spooning,” author Leah Holbrook Sackett lets her reader in on a life gone wrong and the main character lost on a journey to make sense of it all. The inspiration for this piece developed following Leah’s discovery in her own kitchen of a rogue spoon. The spoon was mismatched to any set, yet was a favourite among the utensils stashed in the drawer. This facet becomes a key hinge of the story she tells and raised intriguing questions in itself to the things that we cherish in life.” – Art Ascent
The Array Of Humanity
Swimming Middle River – “This collection of short stories is an amazing showcase of humanity. It brings together vastly differing experiences from equally differing persons. I’m sure many readers will find themselves relating to these very real characters and even for the ones who don’t, the stories remain intriguing and thought-provoking of what our fellow humans may be going through. I easily fell in love with every character and empathized with their struggle.
What I initially disliked, but soon adored was that the stories were only a glimpse. The author picked very specific instances from the characters’ lives to share, leaving you knowing there was so much more to be learned (and trust me, you’ll want to learn it). What was the aftermath? Where did their journey lead the next day, the next year? What were the long-term effects of this incident?
However, it’s abundantly clear that this writing style is exactly what made the collection so great. It really drove home the message of understanding and compassion by showing just how incredibly diverse human plights and personalities are. If this handful of small events was this detailed, yet superbly varied from each other, imagine just the infiniteness and intricacy of entire existences of every person on Earth.
With that in mind, I do think the author could take any one of these shorts and create an entire book about the character’s world. Not just because they were a single experience, but because they are individually interesting enough and because the author is ultimately capable of such immersive expansion as evidenced by the pure amount of heart put into each story.” – Review on Barnes and Noble and Amazon
“…soul chilling and marvelous. I would publish it twice if I could.” Vivienne McLemore, Editor Zany Zygote Review [‘What the Mirror Reflects”]
“…Fresh and Original.” Kerri Farrell Foley, Editor
Crack the Spine [“The Family Blend”]
“Wow – Leah Sackett’s The Family Blend is a masterful journey of haunted memory and hard hitting truth. I love the way she blended the light and darkness and brought both together in the ending. Would love to see more by this author!” – Jenni Venker Weidenbenner Crack the Spine [“The Family Blend”]
“…Sincere and Hopeful” Editors at AEthor and Ichor [“Raising St. Elisabeth”]
“Leah Sackett takes us into the close minded, judging world that surrounds and strangles whatever life is left of the narrator, Kitty, in her despondent, realistic tale, “A Point of Departure.” There seems to be no escape.” Meg Tuite, Fiction Editor Connotation Press [“A Point of Departure”]
“…how much I truly loved this story, and we’re very excited to be working with you, and presenting this piece. It’s not often I come across a refreshing read like this, let alone something I connect with so fluidly. ” Thomas John Nudi, Editor
Blacktop Passages [“Somebody Else in Kentucky”]
“…excellent – great characters and dialogue!” C.E. Lukather, Edtior
The Writing Disorder [“Man in Black”]
“The skill in the writing takes us one way and then the other. The humour is dark and it compliments the subject matter. When this type of story is done well, like yours, the reader should feel a bit uncomfortable especially if they find the humour amusing. It is fun to make a reader uncomfortable!
I am very interested to see what else you have for us.”
– Hugh Literally Stories [I “Love” Burt]
” I think you achieve a delicate balance between dark humour and the more serious topic of depression.” – Neil Grey Banks Literally Stories [I “Love” Burt]
“Love your story!! I burst out laughing at the end!” – Catherine Atkins Greenspan Two Sisters Writing & Publishing [Sticker Shock]