A Boston area writer, Meredith has authored four books and co-authored one, including Mr. Clark’s Big Band, which won an Independent Publisher Book Award and was a finalist for a Foreword Reviews INDIES Award. She teaches journalism at Northeastern University, where she also serves as a writing coach.
Uncomfortably Numb: a memoir (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, 2020), author
This medical memoir traces the moment Meredith first experiences what she later learns is a multiple sclerosis symptom, through the two-year diagnostic process, and, ultimately to the other side where she had to make an uneasy peace with the incurable and chronic disease of the central nervous system.
Reviews: The Library Journal said: “O’Brien’s words will resonate with those living with the unpredictability of chronic conditions, along with their friends, family, and various support systems.”
New York Times bestselling writer Andrea J. Buchanan said: “A journalist by training and a writer by nature, she fearlessly investigates, contemplates, and confronts her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. … [It] will be heartening to anyone who has lived with the uncertainty of chronic illness.”
Bestselling writer Sarai Walker said the memoir is written “unflinchingly” and showcases “a clear-eyed and courageous voice, bringing the reader along with her.”
Bestselling memoirist Jessica Fector wrote: “Uncomfortably Numb is a rare window into everyday life with multiple sclerosis, and how chronic illness can turn one’s very identity inside out. The illness is unpredictable: an initial diagnosis takes years to materialize, symptoms may or may not signal the progression of the disease, and treatments are imperfect. With candor, O’Brien bares her most vulnerable moments as she learns the new rules of working, parenting, and living in the present when the future is uncertain.”
Author and chef Trevis Gleason said, “Uncomfortably Numb is heart-breaking, it’s harrowing, and it’s heroic.”
Buy it: The book can be purchased on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Signed copies can be purchased through Tatnuck Booksellers of Westborough, MA. Email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask your local bookstore to carry it!
Mr. Clark’s Big Band: A Year of Laughter, Tears and Jazz in a Middle School Band Room (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, 2017), author
A narrative nonfiction account of how a small-town Massachusetts middle school jazz band overcame grief through music and camaraderie while under the guidance of an unorthodox, risk-taking music director. Mr. Clark’s Big Band is a testament to the power of a big-hearted teacher.
Reviews: Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Madeleine Blais called Mr. Clark’s Big Band “endearing and inspiring.” Award-winning author Suzanne Strempek Shea said it is, “a timeless story, one that underlines in gold the power of the unsung heroes all around us.” Music educator and recording artist Dr. Steve Raybine referred to Mr. Clark’s Big Band as “written with insight and affection.” New York University jazz studies faculty Dave Pietro called it “a chronicle of all that is good and precious in music education.” Author and educator Robert Wilder declared it “a moving portrait of how a grieving school can heal through the power of music.”
Awards: Mr. Clark’s Big Band was a bronze award winner (Education category) in the 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards.
It was also a finalist for the 2018 Foreword INDIES Award (Education category).
Mortified: A Novel About Oversharing (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, 2013), author
In the age of blogs and omnipresent social media, where is the line between laudable, cathartic honesty and oversharing? Maggie Kelly started her personal blog for one reason: to prevent her head from exploding with frustration. She is, frankly, tired of at-home motherhood and weary of her husband Michael’s frequent absences due to his workaholic ways. She feels like a hostage to marriage and maternity. So when a friend suggests that she create an anonymous blog where she can complain to her heart’s content and not have to hold anything back, “Maggie Has Had It” was born. After her controversial, raw and profane blog posts draw thousands of online readers, Maggie’s blogging identity is inadvertently revealed. Michael is horrified to learn that his wife has written, in great detail, about his shortcomings as a husband and, mortifyingly, between the sheets. To make matters worse, it is his mother who tells him about his online humiliation. While many people have been embarrassed by unkind remarks that have been made about them from time to time, few have had those unflattering quips go viral in the way Michael’s humiliation does. Mortification in 21st century fashion: via Google. (Book blog can be found here.)
Reviews: Former Boston Globe columnist Joanna Weiss, called Mortified “A funny, empathetic novel about family, frustration and the perils of miscommunication. Maggie’s blogging and misadventures are familiar to us all, and her voice is irresistible.” Award-winning author Suzanne Strempek Shea said, “I am so glad overwhelmed suburban mom Maggie Kelly wasn’t writing about me in her vent-gone-viral blog Maggie Has Had It, but am so thrilled Meredith O’Brien indeed has written about her. Dig right into this very satisfying parfait of fiction that reads keenly as fact happening behind the closed curtains right next door to you, marital drama harshly exposed to the light of day via this smart, sharp and funny look at what happens when one woman’s TMI world explodes.” Author Jen Singer said, “… a thoroughly entertaining read. Put on a video for the kids and treat yourself to Mortifed.” Blogger Lainie Gutterman called the book, “… a fun, quick … read which will have you laughing out loud and shaking your head in agreement because you know all too well about life as mommy.”
Awards: Finalist in ForeWord Reviews’ contest for debut novels
A Suburban Mom: Notes from the Asylum (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, 2007), author
A glimpse into the mind of a laid-back yet stressed-out, insecure, sleep-starved, TV-obsessed, news-junkie, Generation X parent navigating the labyrinth of modern parenthood with three young children, including a set of twins. From critiquing fashionistas who try to convince the pregnant public to buy maternity thongs and discussing whether at-home moms have sold out their feminist sisters, to tackling topics such as how to have a sex life while three kids are pounding on their parents’ locked bedroom door, how to look cool while driving a mini-van (a clue: you can’t) and what happens when a toddler eats trash, Meredith’s collection of 76 columns illustrates how parents are living their lives in the real American suburbs, not in the white picket fenced world portrayed in fuzzy, honey-hued greeting card ads.
Reviews: ForeWord Reviews said, “This book’s short essays will appeal to harried mothers looking for relief from the sometimes claustrophobic world of parenting young children. In A Suburban Mom, readers will find both humor and reprieve from the outside world’s views of their daily lives.” Literary Mamas said, “With a healthy does of pathos, [O’Brien] manages to capture the befuddlement that comes with trying to parent in the face of the opposing demands of children and lurid temptations like fast food and the veritable buffet of kids’ television programming.” Stacy DeBroff, founder of MomCentral.com and Today Show parenting expert said, “Meredith O’Brien has written one of the most refreshingly honest, hilarious, poignant, and searingly true parenting book that I have read of late.” Author Paula Schmitt said, “Written with warmth, humor, and wisdom, A Suburban Mom is clever, inspiring and will make you proud to be a mother … a great gift for every mom who needs some comic relief.” Author and radio host Betsy Hart said, “In A Suburban Mom: Notes from the Asylum, Meredith O’Brien has given every mom something she desperately needs amid today’s world of ‘perfect parents’ — a wonderful dose of reality, along with lots of laughs.”
The Buying of the President (Avon, 1996), co-author
A finalist for a Investigative Reporters and Editors book award, this book examined the connections between major donors and the 1996 presidential candidates. Meredith researched and wrote the chapters on eventual GOP nominee Bob Dole and Indiana Senator Richard Lugar. The Columbia Journalism Review called the Dole-Gallo research “surprising” and “a big story.”