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Irreversible Things

Brimming with wit and heart, Irreversible Things follows three decades in the life of author-qua-narrator Lisa and her charismatic Mormon family, from childhood to puberty to adulthood. From a young girl grappling with early friendships, first crushes, and a beloved neighbor's shocking murder, to a young woman beginning her own family, dealing with infertility, and caring for a father with Alzheimer's, this work expands our understanding of the novel form, weaving together memoir, fiction, and the fiction of remembering.


"In spare, beautiful prose, Lisa Van Orman Hadley documents family life—her own—with all its quirks and charming eccentricities. Irreversible Things is about what has been lost and, in the way of things, joyfully reclaimed and redeemed. This debut will make you laugh and cry—as I did. Read it if you need uplifting in these dark times." —Karen Brennan, author of Monsters


Irreversible Things is the winner of the Howling Bird Press Book Prize, the Association for Mormon Letters Special Award in Literature, and two Midwest Book Awards silver medals.

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reviews of Irreversible Things

Camille-Yvette Welsch, Foreword Reviews

"Thoughtful and funny, Irreversible Things plays with the forms of short stories, novels, and memoirs, resulting in hybrid text that articulates change across a lifetime."

Rachel Rueckert,

Columbia Journal

"A fair warning: don't be fooled by the ease of this read or by the sheer joy of following this narrator into adulthood. The heartbreak catches you off guard with such force that you drop even your loudest, most intrusive questions."

Sarah Nickel Moore,

"It took me weeks to finish this book because I kept pausing to catch my breath, rereading and rediscovering passages and savoring a language that is heartbreakingly simple and poetic."

Lynette Lamb,
Star Tribune

"Irreversible Things is told in epistolary fashion, laying out in brief, funny chapters ("Swing Set," "Lice Day") the childhood and early adult life of Lisa, one of six children in a lively Mormon family growing up in Florida and Utah."

Rebekah Orton,
Exponent ii

"Irreversible Things is part window, part magnifying glass. This collection of beautiful vignettes adds up to so much more than the sum of their parts, creating a novel memoir in a form so personal it will crack you open."

Theric Jepson,
Dawning of a Brighter Day

"What a marvel. Impossible to categorize, but a marvel. It builds and grows into one coherent work of art. I can’t remember the last book I read so quickly and enjoyed so much."


Cherry Blossom

"Lost Things,"
New England Review

Mini Sandwiches

"Making Sandwiches with My Father,"
The Collagist

"The summer before my sophomore year of high school, he teaches me how to make a Reuben.  We assemble ingredients, get them ready so we can add each one as quickly as possible because we must eat the sandwich while it is still hot and the top of the bread is crispy.  I learn his tricks: drain the sauerkraut well (“nothing worse than a soggy sandwich”), use just the right amount of butter on the outsides of the bread, choose the very best Thousand Island dressing you can find because it makes or breaks the sandwich . . ."


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"gloss . a . ry |ˈgläs-ə-rē|


plural glossaries

an alphabetical list of terms or words found in or relating to a specific subject, text, or dialect, with explanations; a brief dictionary

  1. The daughter makes a glossary of the peculiar things the mother and father say.


gosh |gäSH| dag . nab . it |dagnabit|

exclamation . . ."


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