cover image Maggie Boylan

Maggie Boylan

Michael Henson. Ohio Univ./Swallow, $18.95 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-0-8040-1202-7

Trouble—much of it self-inflicted—follows Maggie Boylan, the unconventional hero of this powerful novel from Henson (Ransack). Maggie is “straight as a bullet, foul-mouthed, skinny, death-head-looking, Oxy-addled, thieving”—a folk hero for the fentanyl-ravaged heartland. Set in the present day in the small town of Wolf Creek, Ohio, Henson’s novel follows Maggie and those around her as the opioid epidemic upends their lives. She is a vivid, complex character, as likely to con a neighbor for $20 as she is to nurse an injured police officer back to health. But time is running out for her to change her ways. After she is framed for robbery, Maggie is given a choice by the court: treatment, parole, and monitored sobriety, or prison. Her addiction, which has already cost her custody of her children, her marriage, and countless friends, can no longer be ignored. In a series of self-contained stories, Henson uses an ensemble of narrators to tell Maggie’s saga. Despite its short length, Henson’s novel packs a punch: it’s harrowing, haunted, and often beautiful. (Mar.)