Naomi Ulsted

Local author Naomi Ulsted’s debut young adult novel, The Apology Box, launches December 4.

The book, published by Idle Time Press, tells the story of 16-year-old Tessa, whose small mountain community is ravaged by a forest fire. People come together to heal. Except Tessa. Because she set the blaze. The story follows Tessa as she tries to pull a new life from the ashes of a big mistake. When the judge hands out a sentence of massive fines, community service and 227 apology letters - one for every person whose life she’s ruined - Tessa wishes she’d been sent to prison, that life behind bars might be better than the one she’s forced to live.

Choked by shame and resentment, and shunned by her friends and neighbors, the only person she can lash out at is herself. An unlikely friendship, a painful discovery and a box full of apology letters may be the only chance Tessa has at redemption.

The book has been garnering positive pre-publication reviews. BookLife gave the book 9/10 stars, calling it “a unique coming-of-age story.” Indies Today says “In our world where culpability is easily pushed on others, The Apology Box is a must-read novel that is modern, compelling and painfully relevant.”

Themes of accountability, resilience, mental health and living authentically resonate throughout the book. Ulsted’s years of working with under-privileged and at-risk youth through the Job Corps program informed the development of her main character. Ulsted is now the executive director at Bob Belloni Ranch.

Ulsted also writes personal narratives and her memoir, Finding Home, will be released through SheWrites Press in Fall 2023. Her work has been published in Mud Season Review, The Forge,= and The New Guard, among others. For  information, her website is

The official book launch event for The Apology Box will be December 4 at 1 p.m. at Books By the Bay. Books are also available online at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.


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