The Boy at the Door

Alex Dahl. Berkley, $16 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-451-49179-4
Set in Sandefjord, Norway, Dahl’s heartrending first novel focuses on Cecilia Wilborg, a well-to-do suburban wife seething with anger, frustration, and a long-hidden secret. One October evening, after her daughters’ swimming session, Cecilia finds herself willy-nilly caring for Tobias, a seven-year-old boy who was abandoned at the public pool. When she tries to take Tobias home, she discovers that the address he gives is an empty house. Cecilia’s fraught involvement with the boy soon leads to a dizzying downward spiral of alcohol, drugs, lying, and guilt. Her first-person narrative alternates with two other pain-filled stories, one revealed through the cathartic journal kept by Annika Lucasson—a viciously exploited drug addict who once tended to Tobias and knows Cecilia’s secret—and the other centered on the psychologically damaged Tobias. Their intersecting tales reveal ironic twists of fate en route to the bittersweet conclusion. Dahl savagely delineates the price of living in a society that insists women must try to be perfect wives and mothers and have successful careers, too, or they’ll be inevitably made to feel they’re never good enough. Agent: Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Agency. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/07/2018
Release date: 07/24/2018
Genre: Fiction
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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