The Free

Willy Vlautin. Harper, $14.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-227674-2
This strong fourth novel from Portland singer/songwriter and author Vlautin (The Motel Life) follows three protagonists who find the strength to make the best of difficult situations. Leroy Kervin, an Iraq War veteran gravely wounded in a roadside-bomb explosion seven years ago, is an inpatient at a male group home in Washington State, where his longtime girlfriend, Jeanette, and mother, Darla, sometimes come to visit. Severely depressed, he attempts suicide by jumping out of an upper-story window, which leaves him bedridden. Freddie McCall, a night orderly at the home, works a second job at a paint store to pay off the debts incurred by medical treatment for his young, physically handicapped daughter, Virginia, who lives with his ex in Las Vegas. Pauline Hawkins, a hospital nurse now caring for Leroy, lives alone with her pet rabbit and keeps an eye on her dysfunctional father. As Leroy succumbs even more to his depression, he has a series of increasingly bizarre, violent dreams involving him and Jeanette being pursued by a relentless vigilante militia calling itself “the Free.” Pauline tries to save a 16-year-old patient who’s become addicted to heroin, while Freddie learns he may have a chance to be reunited with his family. Despite the grim trajectory of Leroy’s story, Pauline and Freddie’s innate decency adds a refreshingly positive note to Vlautin’s character-driven novel. Agent: Anna Stein O’Sullivan, Aitken Alexander Associates, (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/07/2013
Release date: 02/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-231938-8
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-06-227675-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-4829-9164-2
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-571-30029-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-4829-9165-9
Ebook - 268 pages - 978-0-571-30031-0
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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