By: Hanna Nakano
When the world was at home during the pandemic, many of us indulged in new hobbies. We baked sourdough, we played Stardew Valley, we bought Pelotons.
Jessica Guerrieri—a mother of three in Davis—challenged a group of local friends to make goals and hold themselves accountable. Guerrieri’s goal was to write a book, and when she puts her mind to something, she moves mountains.
She wrote a novel and won the Maurice Prize for Fiction at UC Davis, her alma mater (major bragging rights with a $10-thousand kicker!), but the best was still yet to come.
Guerrieri has now signed a two-book deal with HarperCollins to publish her prize-winning novel Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea in 2025 and a second, The Thread, in 2026.
Both novels focus on themes wound tightly to the core of the author’s own life: navigating large family dynamics, motherhood, and alcoholism.
Sober for ten years, Guerrieri borrows heavily from her own life experiences. Her work is part of a modern genre of “autofiction” that blurs real experiences with imagination.
“My friends have been warned that nothing is off limits. There is always going to be some of their pieces woven into my writing because feelings are universal,” she told The Dirt. “I am an open book, I share things that are vulnerable and deeply personal and someone will say, ‘I’m so glad you said that, I feel that way, too.’ These exchanges connect us to what we are going through. It’s how I stay sober.”
Guerrieri shows up on social media the way she does in real life: unfiltered and honest about her life and her desire to help others.
Ultimately, that’s why she writes.
“I want my novels to be a safe space for women to investigate their experience with alcohol,” she explained. “I would love it if my story opened somebody’s eyes to the idea that maybe they should examine their relationship with alcohol or why they feel the need to escape from the trenches of motherhood.”
With three children, two books, and one new plot of land on the outskirts of South Davis, Guerrieri says she’s living a dream life. One she worked very hard for.
“We just sent out Christmas cards,” she said, “And I got to share my joy with the world: I just got a two-book deal, and we have an opportunity to build a little dream community with our family out in the country–—and ten years ago, my addiction had every intention of killing me. I want anyone out there who is struggling to see recovery is possible. There is so much hope. I am living proof.”