Strong sales spur wider release of URI junior’s novel tackling sexual assault, drug use, mental health

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Publishing company releases paperback edition of Barren

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 26, 2016 — University of Rhode Island junior Elizabeth Miceli wasn’t sure what to expect when her first novel, Barren, was released in October. She wondered if readers would connect with the book despite — or perhaps because of — its heavy themes regarding sexuality and sexual assault, drug use and mental health issues.

The results are in: Readers have connected with the book and her publisher, Swoon Romance, released the book in paperback on February 27.

The paperback edition of Barren debuted as the top new release in the Teen & Young Adult category on and No. 6 in the category overall. The electronic edition reached the top 10,000 in e-book sales on Amazon out of approximately 3 million titles available on the shopping site. Eighteen reader reviews have been posted, all rating the book five stars. The book is also available at

“I am absolutely over the moon about this,” she said. “The reviews readers have left me showed me that my character Stacey comes across as real and relatable, and that’s all I could have hoped for when I created her.”

Barren tells the story of Stacey Lorenzo, a 17-year-old with poor self-esteem and an eating disorder. Stacey turns to partying – binge drinking, drugs, cutting and engaging in risky sexual activity – in an attempt to find herself.

“I always thought people my age would connect with it, but I wasn’t sure how it would play to older readers because it’s a raw look at what teenage girls go through today,” she said. “But an 80-year-old woman read and loved the book, which I think says a lot about how Stacey’s struggles are more than a product of her time. Even if readers can’t identify with Stacey’s experiences, many people — from millenials to baby boomers — can relate to her emotions and insecurities.”

Upon the book’s release, and Miceli’s subsequent promotional efforts – including a blog tour and speaking engagements – she has continued to relate to her readers.

Miceli was asked to speak to physical education classes at her former high school in North Kingstown, and it gave her a chance to shed some light on these issues for students who might otherwise not have had a place to turn.

“I asked them to fill out comment cards with any questions they might have, and they didn’t have to sign them. There were students who said they were struggling with their weight, with eating disorders, with sexual assault, asking ‘What do I do?’” she said. “These are things that are happening in our schools and, yet, nobody wants to talk about them. As I read one card, I knew this girl was struggling, but she wasn’t the only person in that audience who was having a difficult time, so I really tried to let them know they’re not alone.”

She will speak at URI’s “Take Back The Night” event April 28 at Chafee Hall on the Kingston Campus.

Barren’s sequel, Consumed, is slated to be released in paperback and electronic editions on July 10.

Pictured Above:

Strong sales of the novel Barren, written by University of Rhode Island junior Elizabeth Miceli, has led her publisher to release the book in paperback and the sequel, Consumed, will be published in paperback and electronic editions on July 10.

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Miceli