cover image Ten Miles One Way

Ten Miles One Way

Patrick Downes. Philomel, $17.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-399-54499-6

Although Nest is in a coma after driving a car into a tree, she is very much present in this painful and often beautiful exploration of mental illness. Three years earlier, when Nest and her friend Isaac Kew (nicknamed “Q”) were 17, they took an epic walk across New York City; Nest, who is bipolar, frequently takes such walks during manic states, but this was the first time she let Q come with her. Downes (Fell of Dark) frames the novel as Q’s record of that walk, switching between Q’s grounding commentary (“Just over the bridge comes the part of the city where everything necessary gets done”) and Nest’s narrative, a wilderness of ideas, memories, and reflections on the “Chimaera” of her illness (“She’s the Equator and the South Pole. She’s a desert and the bottom of the ocean. Completely wild. A bit deadly”). Q is fascinated by Nest’s seemingly boundless imagination and more than a little in love with her, but Downes doesn’t cloak the depth of Nest’s suffering nor offer false promises about love’s ability to rescue or redeem. Ages 14–up. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Mar.)