Sara Rauch is in a long-term, committed relationship with another woman when she begins a low-residency MFA in fiction. Though it goes against the promises she’s made, she finds herself pulled into an intense affair with a married man, a well-known writer in the program. More than an essay about bisexual infidelity and the resulting heartbreaks, XO unfolds Rauch’s story like a map of psychic terrain, allowing the author to explore her longstanding obsessions with romantic love, personal faith and belief systems, and the stories we tell ourselves to get through our ever changing lives.

Praise for XO

“Rauch’s deliberately meandering essay…ultimately arrives at a state of grace… [T]he magic of the text she leaves behind is the unflinching examination of the root systems that have supported that emergence—all the intertwined threads that give life to what finally breaks through to the surface.” —Richard Scott Larson, Colorado Review

“One thing I love about XO is Rauch’s commitment to the story and her absolute resistance to flinching as she tells it. We may judge her, and she may judge herself, but it’s her story, and who she is, and it’s all laid out before us to lose, and find, ourselves in should we choose to.” —Ben Tanzer, LitReactor

“Rauch’s work is both intellectually interesting and creatively pleasing…” —Lara Lillibridge, Mom Egg Review

“At once pensive and energetic, romantic and self-aware, XO thrills both the mind and the heart. A skillful story of bisexual desire, Rauch layers meaning onto the titular X and O until we’re torn between those letters, her lovers, and the gulf between spirit and self. This book illuminates the many faces of love, from the queer to the safe to the erotic to the irrational. The world needs more bisexual stories with heat, nuance, and beauty—XO delivers and then some.” —Jen Winston, author of Greedy: Notes from a Bisexual Who Wants Too Much

“How do the lines of desire both cross and encircle us? Sara Rauch’s XO sorts through the mythology of love, pushing against her long-term relationship with a woman by pulling herself into an affair with a married man. Rauch balances the saudade of choice and the weight of conclusion on the tender threads of heartbreak, weaving in hard-won revelations about the meaning of the X and the meaning of the O. Like any treasure map, XO includes both the landmarks to watch for and the spot to dig—but like any good treasure map, readers will discover the real reward is in this journey.” —Kristine Langley Mahler, author of Curing Season: Artifacts

“Like a spider weaving its web, Sara Rauch deftly spins the romance and betrayal of a secret affair into the sparklingly complex XO. Something between a memoir and a meditation, this is less a straightforward narrative than a trace along the crooked whorl of self-discovery, as Rauch is shaped, reshaped, and perhaps at times misshapen by her deepest musings and most vulnerable moments of being. At turns exquisite and a little bit feral, XO offers a rich and profoundly generous exploration of love, spirituality, and the ways we find to make sense of life’s most enduring mysteries.”—Marin Sardy, author of The Edge of Every Day

“In XO, Sara Rauch showcases an intricate honesty and lays bare the tender mercies of her life with such mesmerizing artistry. Here, Rauch shines as a mighty chronicler of identity and connection and love and how our own sweeping mythologies, like some unfolded map, can yield universal truths. A profound and sincere work.”—Robert James Russell, author of Mesilla and Sea of Trees