The Boy

Lara Santoro. Little, Brown, $24.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-316-20623-5
Santoro offers an emotionally intense, but melodramatic, sequel to 2007’s Mercy. Anna, 42, thinks she’s left her hard-drinking, volatile life behind in Africa, along with her career as a war journalist. Now she and her eight-year-old daughter, Eva, are settled in New Mexico, following an acrimonious divorce from Eva’s father. Anna starts a lustful affair with 20-year-old neighbor Jack, the first of a series of spectacularly bad decisions that leave Anna vulnerable to continued self-destruction. Much as Anna’s life devolves into chaos, so too does the plot disintegrate, increasingly losing focus and direction. Anna offers some realistic insights into maternal affection and insecurity: “We have children and they’re nothing we’re prepared for.... We have children and we don’t know how.” She is, however, so unwaveringly unpleasant to everyone—her daughter, her lover, her ex-husband, her inexplicably devoted housekeeper—that it’s hard to remain interested as she spirals out of control. The affair with Jack lacks credibility, and although Santoro’s affection for the desert renders some arresting depictions of the landscape, elsewhere the prose feels hollow even as it describes moments of potential emotional richness. Agent: Elaine Markson, Markson Thoma Literary Agency. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/08/2012
Release date: 01/15/2013
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Paperback - 181 pages - 978-0-316-20624-2
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