cover image Touch and Go

Touch and Go

Thad Nodine. Unbridled, $16.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-60953-061-7

Nodine's cinematic novel deserves to be hailed as one of the year's finest fiction debuts. In addition to creating a memorable cast characters%E2%80%94including Kevin, the blind unemployed journalist and recovering addict who narrates this contemporary road story%E2%80%94Nodine treats readers to a realistic portrayal of multicultural America and manages to make the plot pivot at the height of Hurricane Katrina's fury in Biloxi, Miss. Kevin, his husband-and-wife sponsors, and the couple's two foster sons (one African-American and one Hispanic) hop into a battered station wagon nicknamed "Betsy" and travel through the South to deliver a handmade wooden casket for a dying grandfather. From Burbank, Calif., to Pensacola, Fla., they face peril and unexpected delays, with the rag-tag "family" falling prey to drugs, violence, deceit, and greed. However, an extended denouement and a last-minute plot twist will leave readers hoping that Nodine will pen a sequel. He deserves kudos for making this rollicking, often heartbreaking, tale believable, especially given the inherent constraints of having a blind narrator. With an honest, vulnerable voice, Kevin proves to be an appealing protagonist, never afraid of showing his feelings, and treating people with the respect he never received. (Sept.)