The Trouble Up North


By Travis Mulhauser

Formats and Prices




$38.00 CAD

An atmospheric, haunting novel about a family of bootleggers, their troubled history, and the land that binds them.

The Sawbrooks have lived on prime real estate on the lakes of Michigan since before there was prime real estate. A family of smugglers and bootleggers, every man, woman, and child in each generation has been taught to navigate the nooks and crannies of the rivers and highways that flow in and out of Canada. The hidden routes are the family's legacy.

But today, the Sawbrooks are deeply fractured, and the money that's sustained the family is running out. Edward, the Sawbrook patriarch, is dying from cancer, and his wife, Rhoda, is bitterly disappointed in her three adult children. The eldest daughter, Lucy, is now a park ranger, working to federally protect the land against her mother’s will; the middle son, Buckner, hasn’t been the same since he came back from the army suffering from alcoholism; and the youngest daughter, Jewell, is wasting her potential as a card player and bartender.

When Jewell is asked to commit a crime for a major insurance payout, she agrees, eager for the cash, but too late, she realizes that that the boat she torched wasn't empty…

Together, the Sawbrooks will have to contend with the old, familial ways and the new, shifting world, and face each other—and their pain-filled past—to smuggle one more thing through and out of their land to safety.

  • Praise for Sweetgirl

    “[A] compulsively readable novel...finish the first chapter and you will be hooked...violent, dark, and impressively redemptive...Sweetgirl is a upper-Midwestern homage to great American quest novels like True Grit and Winter’s Bone. It is a truly memorable and remarkable read.” 
    Nickolas Butler, author of Shotgun Lovesongs
  • “The perfect balance of humor and heartache...a masterful wise as it is suspenseful, as funny as it is tragic...written with guts, grit, and grace, Sweetgirl is the book you want to keep you company on a cold winter’s night.”
    Ploughshares, Best Books of the New Year
  • Sweetgirl works on so many levels, it’s difficult to know how to classify it...hilarious, heartbreaking and true, a major accomplishment from an author who looks certain to have an impressive career ahead of him.”
  • “[Sweetgirl is] filled with true wit, cunning, and the unwanted wisdom of a child denied a childhood. This novel comes on like the blizzard at its center, and leaves you dazzled and dazed not only by how much Travis Mulhauser knows, but how deeply he cares.”
    Michael Parker, author of All I Have in this World
  • “There’s a big old neon heart pulsing on every page of Sweetgirl, like the sign to a bar you can’t help but enter. I felt thrilled and shocked, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Travis Mulhauser is a writer to be reckoned with.”
    Lindsay Hunter, author of Ugly Girls and Don't Kiss Me

On Sale
Mar 11, 2025
Page Count
288 pages

Travis Mulhauser

About the Author

Travis Mulhauser was born and raised in Northern Michigan. His novel, Sweetgirl (Ecco/Harper Collins), was listed for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, an Indie Next Pick, and named one of Ploughshares Best Books of the New Year. He is also the author of Greetings from Cutler County: A Novella and Stories. Travis received his MFA in Fiction from UNC-Greensboro and is also a proud graduate of North Central Michigan College and Central Michigan University. He lives currently in Durham, North Carolina with his wife and two children.

Learn more about this author