Making Manna

“A thoroughly engaging and especially well-crafted read from beginning to end, Making Manna clearly establishes Eric Lotke as an impressively gifted novelist.” — Midwest Book Review.

© 2015 from Brandylane Books

Manna cover

Libby Thompson is just fourteen years old when she flees her abusive home with her newborn son, Angel. Now they must build a life for themselves with smart choices and hard work, despite low wages and trouble with the law. As Angel gets older, he asks questions about his family, and Libby’s tenuous peace threatens to crumble. Making Manna explores the depths of betrayal and the human capacity to love, flourish, and forgive in the face of heartbreaking odds.

“I was sad for the book to end, didn’t want to say goodbye.”
— Joan Brunwasser, OpEdNews

Buy the Book! (Amazon) (iBook) 

Author one-page bio

Why is it called “Making Manna”?


Happy new year! On January 1, 2018, Bonnie Ferrante reviewed her favorite books from 2017. She called Making Manna: “Unforgettable, riveting, total emotional engagement, inspiring, and brilliantly written. By far the best adult book I’ve read in years.

I am invited to the Eat Local, Read Local event at the Cascades Library in Loudoun County (VA, for those who aren’t local) on Saturday September 29, 2018, 11-1.

Check out this cool review from Bonnie Ferrante! (January 2017).
“I thought I would read a chapter of Making Manna before sleeping but thirteen chapters later I was reluctant to close the book. It was only my aching eyes that made me stop….I cannot recommend this amazing story strongly enough.”

The Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice invites me to discuss Making Manna, November 2016: “The failings of the justice system and a victim’s efforts to heal.”

Blog Tour, Spring 2016

Joan’s Musings: “This is a story, although about very simple people in dire circumstances, that drew me in until I couldn’t release the book until I finished it.”

…“The writing reminded me a little of Steinbeck’s characters for it had that fluidity and character analysis.”

Just Reviews: “Read this outstanding novel…. Powerful, heartfelt, compelling and one of the best books I have had the honor or reviewing in a long time”

A Day in Motherhood: “I read a lot of books. It’s one of my most favorite ways to relax. There are some nights I can be found staying up all night to read because I just can’t put the book down. Making Manna was one of these.”

ABCD Diarie’s: “This book was truly lovely!  It was a joy to read and once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down.  Lotke’s characters are so familiar and they have to endure so much heartbreak, you can’t help but commiserate during the bad times and revel in the good right along with the family.  It really is an amazing story of survival, perseverance and growth.  I was actually a little sad to finish the book because I just wanted to stay immersed in the story of the family for a little longer to see what the future held for them.  Amazing, amazing, amazing!”

MamaSmith’s Review: “I love to read. Being a stay at home mom, I don’t have a lot of spare time to do this, but I try to make it work. I recently received the book Making Manna, and boy am I glad I took the time to check it out. What a beautifully written story – but have some tissues handy, you will need them. It is truly heartwarming and one I will pass on to friends and family.”

Leslie Lindsay: “Here’s a story that will have you alternatively feeling hopeful and disgusted, wrought with inner angst, and pulling at your skin to help escape the torturous injustice of the penal system.  You’ll fall in the love with the searing honesty, the glittering prose, and the characters themselves. They might remind you a bit of someone you know…maybe even  yourself.”

Cheryl’s Book Nook: “From the beginning I was drawn into the story … and [t]he ending was a good one. This is a book worth checking out.”

Sharyl K., Book Bargains: “This is much more than a book with a message.  It was a book with a call to action.”

Book Fairie: “If you’re ready for drama, this is a good read.”

SoCalCityKids: “I found this book engaging and recommend as a great read for adults! I especially like how realistic and in depth the characters are and found the book tough to put down! I found the characters to be the best part of the book and I really do hope for a sequel!”

>>> What do you think? I’m here on Goodreads <<<

Past Praise for Making Manna

I was Author of the Month at the Inner Loop Reading Series, November 2015.

Interview by Joan Brunwasser, OpEdNews:
“You’ve breathed three-dimensional life into these characters as they figure out how to navigate with dignity through the many daunting challenges they face…. And that’s what makes the story so moving: these people are so real. Kudos. I was sad for the book to end, didn’t want to say goodbye and I keep thinking Making Manna would make a heck of a movie.” March 2015.

Reviewed in NACDL Champion Magazine:
Making Manna is more than a good story. In this work of true fiction, Lotke brings his readers face-to-face with a criminal justice system that burdens people who are poor but innocent, just as it smashes those who are poor and guilty.” April 2015.

Reviewed in Prison Legal News:
“[G]ood fiction, engendering sympathy and understanding for people and situations about whom most of the reading public can’t know in real life.” February 2016.

Interview by Deb Kalb, September 30, 2015 (TRUE CONFESSION: This is my favorite, single-source overview and summary).
I said: “In the Bible, Manna comes from Heaven. In the real world, we need to make our own. Whether Manna is bread, money, free time or a legal action, we have to make it ourselves. Manna won’t come to us…. But please don’t understand this as rugged individualism. Yes, they have to make manna on their own. But they aren’t truly alone. They don’t make manna by themselves. Everybody is always giving and receiving help from others.”

* * * * * * * * *

Making Manna  is named Semi-Finalist in Book Pipeline competition. Identified as a “unique, compelling” story, August 2015.

* * * * * * * * *

“A beautiful story of flourishing in hard times against the madness of an irrational justice system — with family, love, and foodie delights! An inspiring triumph of the human spirit.”
— William Upski Wimsatt, author of Please Don’t Bomb the Suburbs, and President of Gamechanger Labs.

Eric Lotke is a beautiful writer and he has written a beautiful book. Making Manna is a wonderful story of family, redemption, and love that takes the reader from the prison to the school yard in a touching human way that we rarely experience.”
— Heather Ann Thompson, author of Blood in the Water and winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize.

“An inspiring story that shows how difficult society makes it to reach “heaven”—yet how some reach it nevertheless. I enjoyed it immensely.”
— Patrice Gaines, author of Laughing in the Dark

“In this astutely drawn and honest story, Eric Lotke guides us through a world that is all too common and yet largely invisible. Making Manna, brilliantly details the searing fragility of life below the poverty line, where the smallest mishap can send lives cascading toward disaster, and where redemption is hard to achieve but transcendent when it arrives. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming.”
— David Feige, author of Indefensible and creator of the TNT series Raising The Bar

My “coming out” blog posts
Huffington Post: Making Manna: A New Horatio Alger Story
Daily Kos: Tired of the News? Try Making Manna

“The problems of the justice system go far beyond technical details like access to counsel and excessive sentences. The real problem is that the justice system doesn’t protect people who need protection and doesn’t help people who’ve been hurt.” What I told OpEdNews.

Buy the Book!

One thought on “Making Manna

  1. A painful story humanised by plain talk! You can’ t make this stuff up. Well done to a turn, Eric.
    See you at the premier. Zandy Clark, Maine

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