Home         |        Welcome to Rowja        |        Get To Know MH        |        Events

Headed for Home

Mary Helen Brown’s first novel is about family, baseball, and maybe a ghost. Set in Rowja, a small town in rural east Texas, narrator Speedy relates the events of one particular summer that starts with an angel falling, and ends with changing the lives of all who become entwined in the Summester project of Speedy’s sister and her college friends. Meet the colorful characters that populate the town and join them for a fish fry, an adventure down Taterhead Creek, an unexpected surprise in the mailbox, and in obtaining some overdue justice for a long-lost relative.

Praise for Headed for Home

Speedy, whose kith and kin live in the rural town of Rowja, Texas, is Brown’s first success … He’s eminently likable, realistic and possesses a sweetly dry humor. He made me laugh several times, and his way of narrating and matter-of-fact attitude about everything that happens reminded me of Scout from Harper Lee’s enduring Southern classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

read full review here >

Amy Jones, artsBHAM

Headed for Home is a delightful, charming mystery infused with all the southernisms one might hope for in a tale out of the bumbling metropolis of Rowja, Texas. Wide-eyed Speedy is an unforgettable narrator with a penchant for finding humor in the most unlikely moments. Mary Helen Brown’s debut novel plops her smack down atop the list of Southern writers you want all of your friends to read. Warning: This book is best read sitting on the porch on a warm afternoon with a sweaty glass of sweet tea topped with a shot of tequila.

Karen Spears Zacharias, author of Mother of Rain and Burdy

Reading Mary Helen Brown’s novel is like listening to a Lucinda Williams song. I hear phrases from my southern childhood that my mind had forgotten but my heart remembers. First cousins once removed. Trash pile fires. I taste the Luden’s cough drops and Frito pies. I know some of the characters, like Bertie who could fix zippers. I’m in love with this book.

Rheta Grimsley Johnson, author of The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge

Welcome to Rowja, Texas, where “angels fall from the skies” − cement ones at least. Mary Helen Brown’s “Speedy” is an endearing tour guide as readers visit McRiley’s Medicine and Mercantile and Pizzazz Pizza, try to navigate by directions that call for turning at the couch by the side of the road, and sample Me-Mama’s color-coded meals. Meet delightful characters like psychic Aunt Jewel who can make a table “talk” and Bertie who speaks in tongues and wears a motorcycle helmet in case of falling satellites. Brown’s southern romp opens and closes with a funeral, but there is plenty of life − not to mention laughs − in between.

Marian Carcache, author of The Tongues of Men and Angels
MHB Mary Helen and Junebug

Mary Helen Brown

Mary Helen Brown was born and raised in Center, Texas, where her parents Bruce and Nell Brown owned and operated Brown Drug Company. She and her sister, Bonnie, spent many hours on the family farm where Bonnie still resides. Mary Helen graduated from — take a breath — Center High School, Lon Morris College, Centenary College, the University of Kentucky, and The University of Texas. She served for more than thirty years as an associate professor of communication at Auburn University. During that time, she received several teaching awards.

Mary Helen lives in Auburn, Alabama and enjoys watching the Tigers play (especially baseball), traveling, and allowing her pets, Junebug and Tater, to interfere with any attempt to get something productive accomplished. Headed for Home is Mary Helen's first novel, but don't assume you have heard the last from Rowja, Texas.

Read Auburn Magazine's feature of Mary Helen here >