Shelter in Place

Alexander Maksik. Europa (PRH, dist.), $18 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-60945-364-0
Finding peace and learning to deal with the consequences of one’s actions are just two of the many thematic currents pulsing through Maksik’s scorching third novel (after A Marker to Measure Drift). Set in various towns throughout the Pacific Northwest and hurtling back and forth in time from the early 1990s to the present, the bleak story is narrated by Joe March, whose mother, Anne-Marie, is sent to jail in 1991 when Joe is 20. Around the same time, Joe meets Tess—the love of his life—and after a period of brief separation, the two move to White Pine, Wash., where the prison is located. Anne-Marie’s crime—hammering a man to death in a grocery store parking for abusing his wife—soon attracts the admiration of female followers (including Tess) who have “run out of patience” and “have reached their limit” of what they’ll accept from men. In the second half of the book, Tess hatches a plot to punish a wife-beating neighbor and involves Joe, allowing Maksik to deliver a portrait of Joe’s bipolar disorder—which he describes as a “creeping tar” and “a blue-black bird, its talons piercing my lung”—that is honest and devastating. Both the meandering story and the way Joe expresses his thoughts feel accurately claustrophobic. Where Maksik really excels is in his unrestrained depiction of a perpetually broken man who can’t help loving volatile, vulnerable Tess, all the while desperately figuring out how to forgive the woman who raised him. Agent: Eric Simonoff, WME Entertainment. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/25/2016
Release date: 09/13/2016
Genre: Fiction
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-5047-8417-7
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