Our Frail Blood

Peter Nathaniel Malae, Author
Peter Nathaniel Malae. Grove/Black Cat, $15.95 trade paper (448p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2078-6
Reviewed on: 12/10/2012
Release date: 02/01/2013
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Malae’s ambitious second novel follows the rending of the Felice family over half a century as its members spiral apart from each other ideologically, physically, and emotionally. When Richmond and his younger sister, Mary Anna, put their mother into hospice care, their eldest brother Anthony, a right-wing extremist, decries the decision and pits himself against them. Meanwhile, Murron, the abandoned 38-year-old daughter of estranged brother Lazarus, uneasily enters the fray by visiting the grandmother she’s never known. After clashes with the overbearing Felices, Murron reluctantly agrees to help Anthony and his younger brother Johnny find her missing father, so that his support might be enlisted in the sibling rivalry. As Murron gets drawn deeper into the raw anger of the Felice clan, her wounds reopen, leading her to rethink the distance she keeps from her own family. But the secrets of the Felice family prove particularly dark and far-reaching, and Murron’s vulnerabilities impede her efforts to keep herself—and her son—unhurt. While the novel’s heart is true, the bluster and venom of the Felice siblings make it difficult to stick around for when Malae (What We Are) is at his best: depicting the throbbing pain and joy of an American family. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM. (Mar.)
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