Hawk Mountain

Conner Habib. Norton, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-393-54217-2

Unresolved emotional conflict from adolescence haunts a man in Habib’s intensely unsettling debut. While at the beach, Todd Nasca, a high school English teacher estranged from his wife and raising his six-year-old son Anthony in a quaint New England town, crosses paths with Jack Gates, a former schoolmate who used to bully Todd. All smiles now, Jack insinuates himself into Todd’s life with disturbing ease, overstaying his welcome to sleep a few nights on Todd’s couch and gradually working his way into Todd and Anthony’s domestic routines. Then Todd finds out Jack answered a call from Todd’s wife without telling him, setting up a confrontation that is spectacularly hideous in its brutality. Habib laces his narrative with references to the books Todd assigns his students about “male bonding and camaraderie,” suggesting unspoken nuances of his relationship with Jack. The narrative also toggles between past and present, building tension en route to the revelation of an unexpected encounter between the two as teenagers that had major consequences on the course of their lives. Habib brings rich psychological insight to his characters, expertly observing how the conflicts of youth persist into Todd and Jack’s present. Though not for the squeamish, this dramatic tale soars. (July)
PW EDITORS’ PICKS FOR
THE BEST NEW BOOKS
PW EDITORS’ PICKS FOR THE BEST NEW BOOKS