cover image Last Day

Last Day

Domenica Ruta. Spiegel & Grau, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-0-525-51081-9

Ruta explores ideas of forgiveness and loneliness through the experiences of three characters on the titular holiday in this meandering, purposeless debut set in a time much like our present. Thomas “Bear” Clark is an American astronaut aboard the International Space Station who has become disconnected from his daughters and his ex-wife. Sarah Moss is a teenager discovering her sexuality through her curiosity-driven pursuit of an older man. Karen Donovan is a young woman from Boston with mental health issues and a troubled past who has few friends to lean on. The slow and overly contemplative exploration of the sparse events of each character’s Last Day, an international holiday celebrating the end of the world, is frequently interrupted by the detailed and sentimental backstory of irrelevant characters. There’s no conflict, the characters make few decisions, and nothing really happens. Though small connections among the protagonists are rewarding and Ruta offers convincing vignettes, readers will be underwhelmed by this bleak examination of humanity. Agent: Jim Rutman, Sterling Lord Literistic. (June)