Kathryn Schwille's richly descriptive debut novel weaves local drama into a national trauma to illustrate how regular people's lives play out beyond the headlines. The action moves forward and backward in time, with characters literally picking up the pieces of the disaster or reflecting back on it later. The interlocking stories touch on issues of race, religion, domestic violence and family relationships ... the stories here construct a less coherent picture, with action and characters spread out much like the shuttle's debris field. There's a lot to like in this novel, but the structure can distract from Schwille's beautiful language.
Dangerous debris from the Columbia space-shuttle disaster rains across a swath of east Texas, leaving twisted metal in the streets of small-town Kiser and more horrifying remains caught in the trees of its Piney Woods ... Characters’ distinct motivations and hardships, and their stories differing narrative styles, ultimately weave a fuller picture. Fans of Thomas Pierce and Amy Hill Hearth will appreciate Schwille’s spare, poetic prose and her willingness to examine both the picturesque and the unsavory sides of small-town life. A deeply thought-provoking novel.
A scream comes across the sky, and there’s nothing to compare to it in Schwille’s quietly contemplative and affecting first novel. On Feb. 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded while re-entering the Earth's atmosphere, and debris fell into the water. Schwille imagines that debris fell onto Kiser, a 'dinky, third-fiddle' east Texas town near Louisiana. She introduces us to a wide array of locals and their simple lives, now interrupted by search and rescue operations.