Jeannie Burt Novels

When Patty Went Away

What could turn a meek man into one who stands alone against his community and everyone he loves? For Jack McIntyre, it is a girl who has no one else.In 1976, rebellious fifteen-year-old Patty Pugh disappears from her farming community. By the time she vanishes, Patty had grown to be a wild, charismatic, run-around—a mote in the community’s eye—and the town bids her good riddance. Farmer Jack McIntyre can’t escape worry for Patty, for as wild as she was, she was also his beloved daughter’s only friend. He knows he is the only one who will try to find her, but his quest will change him profoundly.  Her disappearance causes most everyone to breathe a sigh of relief; no one seems concerned but Jack McIntyre and his beloved daughter. Jack McIntyre works a farm that has been in his family for three generations. He and his wife struggle to make a living on the land he loves. That awful year, a hailstorm wipes out Jack’s entire crop and the bank threatens to foreclose. As much as his own future worries him, Jack cannot put Patty out of his mind. Most of her life she was close to Jack’s family, but the year before she vanishes she becomes troubled, rebellious, flouting the rules of small-town social conduct and tradition. Her defiant behavior even pulls down the reputation of Jack’s daughter. Patty causes so much disruption, the community bids her good riddance and Jack’s wife writes her off as a bad seed. It rests on Jack to try to find out what happened to her. While Jack scrambles to keep his ranch and family afloat, he quietly begins a search to find the girl. His quest leads him on a strange journey where he discovers the underbelly of a world and life he could never have imagined.


“A remarkably moving novel, heartbreaking and hopeful; there are scenes of great power; but what strikes me most about this novel is that it is true, and real.” Molly Gloss, author of “The Jump-Off Creek” and “The Hearts of Horses”

“Jeannie Burt’s important debut signals that another powerful voice has joined the chorus of outstanding women writing about the West.”

Craig Lesley, author of “The Sky Fisherman” and “Winterkill”

“A deftly written novel showcasing the quiet struggle of a farmer and his family within the framework of a deftly written mystery. A minor literary masterpiece, author Jeannie Burt is a remarkably gifted writer and When Patty Went Away is highly recommended for personal summer fun reading lists.” —The Midwest Book Review

“Jeannie Burt’s debut novel, WHEN PATTY WENT AWAY, takes place in 1976, in eastern Oregon wheat country. When a local teenager goes missing, no one seems to care except for Jack, the father of the girl’s only friend. Although Jack is struggling to keep his farm afloat and his family together, he sets out to find the missing girl. “Burt’s writing is elegant and spare, like the country she writes about. It is a beautiful story with a little mystery thrown in. Really great stuff. Burt is definitely a new author to watch.” —Rose City Reader

“This is a very fine book which I’m happy to recommend. Jeannie Burt is an intelligent and generous writer who draws out the complexity of her characters rather than casting them as heroes and villains. Her story hews very close to real life while providing a compelling narrative that draws the reader along to a dramatic conclusion.” —Donald Lystra, author of “Season of Water and Ice”, winner of the Midwest Book Award for fiction

“In the early 1900s, years before she published any of her now classic novels of frontier Nebraska, Willa Cather noted in a magazine piece that she wished there was an American writer who “could write of the American common people, the people on whom the burden of labor rested, who planted the corn and cut the wheat. Of course Cather herself went on to “write the book” on those kinds of novels. And now, a hundred years later, Jeannie Burt is carrying on that tradition with her stunning debut novel, WHEN PATTY WENT AWAY, in which she introduces Jack McIntyre, a hard-pressed wheat farmer in the Walla Walla valley of northeast Oregon in the 1970s. Not since Mildred Walker’s Winter Wheat has an author so beautifully and faithfully depicted the lives of western families in modern-day America. Cather, Walker? And now add Burt to the pantheon of great women writers of the West. This is one hell of a good read, a book you can’t put down but don’t want to see end either. WHEN PATTY WENT AWAY is, quite simply, an extraordinary achievement. Jeannie Burt is an author to watch. Highly recommended.” —Tim Bazzett, Author of “The Book Lover”