“A beautifully written debut novel with rich, complex characters bound by their tumultuous personal histories and the volatile political landscape of the late 1960’s. Against the grit and beauty of counterculture Chicago, we are allowed to love these flawed, isolated people, and to feel joy as they create renewed lives.” — Meredith Hall, author of Beneficence 

“Like a Complete Unknown tells the story of a pregnant runaway and a widowed doctor whose lives are changed by a brief encounter. Guard paints a compelling and clear-eyed portrait of Chicago during the Vietnam War. She layers the strained idealism of the free love generation atop its ugly underbelly with raw honesty. Although set in the sixties, the novel speaks intimately of our own complex social moment.”  —Mary Volmer, author of Reliance, Illinois

“Anara Guard writes with heart and power, and hers is a confident, moving novel. You will never think of Chicago in the same way again, or of what it feels like to be a desperate runaway teenager. Her remarkable characters face daunting challenges, realistically and freshly depicted against a backdrop of convulsive social change and pressing moral dilemmas. This book is an invaluable time capsule of the Sixties—Viet Nam, the demonstrations, the draft, the counter culture, Tarot cards, collectivism, the songs, the tastes and smells and colors of an era that altered the face of America. And yet, it is much more than that. Her novel also wondrously dramatizes the timelessness of new families, new lives, new starts, and new stories, such as the unforgettable Like a Complete Unknown.”  Joseph diPrisco, author of The Good Family Fitzgerald and chair of The New Literary Project 

“In her impressive debut novel Like a Complete Unknown, Anara Guard brings Chicago during the 1960’s, when emerging feminism and political upheaval ruled the day, into sharp focus. With this as a cultural backdrop, an unlikely encounter between a widowed doctor who has given up on life and a teen-aged girl who has run away from home to find a life sets a propulsive plot in motion. Guard writes with lyrical prose, bringing her characters fully alive in this wonderfully nuanced novel. It is a remarkable story of persistence, self-discovery and redemption.”   —Marcia Butler, author of Oslo, Maine

“Anara Guard’s novel skillfully weaves the music and cultural touchstones of the sixties into a compelling story of a lonely doctor and a naive runaway girl, searching for family and for self. Guard’s prose is lyrical and her characters are realistic and fully formed in this close observation of Chicago during the Vietnam War, a time when women had few choices over their bodies or their lives.”   —Mary Camarillo, author of The Lockhart Women

“Your book comprises so many diverse splendors. It is at once autobiographical, a kind of bildungsroman; an historical and geographical documentation; a journey through a psychosocial landscape of a particular place and time;  a description of outer and inner worlds richly and sometimes amazingly brought to the page; and an exploration of the seductiveness of freedom, with the hopes and dangers thereof,  decisions taken in innocence but also with recklessness, the headiness of  choice and unavoidable consequence….and more. Stunningly observed. A deeply felt, intimately and powerfully inhabited story, which felt almost like a personal letter.”   —Ronne Hartfield, author of AnotherWay Home