From the author of House of Sand and Fog, a novel about an ailing ex-convict in his 60s who pays a visit to the daughter he hasn't seen since the night he murdered her mother in a moment of jealous madness in 1973.
Dubus evokes a dazzling palette of emotions as he skillfully unpacks the psychological tensions between remorse and guilt, fear and forgiveness, anger and love. Susan, Daniel, and Lois are fully realized and authentic characters who live with pain and heartache while struggling to fill the tremendous void created by the tragedy. Heartrending yet unsentimental, this powerful testament to the human spirit asks what it means to atone for the unforgivable and to empathize with the broken.
These are hard things to write about and Dubus asks difficult questions. What do you do with a man who has done what Daniel Ahearn has done? How do you sympathize with him? Dubus does a good job of making Daniel’s self-justifications seem simultaneously plausible and crazy ... Dubus writes well about class—not so much the clash between different ends of the social ladder as the internal conflict that determines whether someone will rise or fall. His characters usually have a foot on two rungs. They’re going up or down. What drives Dubus’s storytelling is the urge to find out which way they’ll turn.
Dubus renders this story of love, jealousy, guilt, and atonement in a voice that rings with authenticity and evokes the texture of working-class lives ... Though the entire cast is vividly drawn, perhaps most impressive is how Dubus elicits sympathy in the reader for Danny, whose life effectively ended the moment he picked up the knife. This is a compassionate and wonderful novel.