August and Then Some

David Prete. Norton, $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-393-05799-7
In his devastating second novel (after Say That to My Face), Prete weaves the events of one steamy New York summer and its aftermath into a story of tragedy and redemption. When 17-year-old JT Savage finds out that his father has been sexually abusing his little sister, Danielle, he and his friend Eugene "Nokey" Cervella try to steal a beloved 1965 Shelby Cobra from the family garage, a doomed bid for revenge with grim consequences. In a parallel narrative, JT flees Yonkers and heads to Manhattan's Lower East Side to work for a landscaping company, and befriends Stephanie, a 13-year-old Dominican neighbor who has "sadness coming off her like heat." As the two forge a tentative bond, the extent of Danielle and Nokey's dire predicaments are revealed. Though the author never shies away from grappling with big issues—whether sociological, familial, or emotional—, Prete too often falls back on cursing and easy signifying accents to convey a sense of gritty inner-city authenticity, and some of the key relationships lack dimension. Ultimately, JT's reflection—"I wonder what ordinary feels like"—rings as the novel's most profound statement for a young man whose choices may permanently alienate him from normalcy. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
Paperback - 259 pages - 978-0-00-718300-5
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-393-08998-1
Hardcover - 192 pages - 978-0-00-740269-4
Paperback - 259 pages - 978-0-00-743879-2
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