cover image I Could Live Here Forever

I Could Live Here Forever

Hanna Halperin. Viking, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-49207-9

A doomed love affair frames this perceptive sophomore outing from Halperin (Something Wild). Leah Kempler, 25, moves from Boston to Madison, Wis., to pursue an MFA in fiction writing. After a year of writing short stories and doing some casual dating, she meets a guy named Charlie. To Leah, Charlie is “by far the most beautiful human being I have ever laid eyes on,” but after she gets to know him a bit, she senses something is amiss about the 31-year-old man who lives with his mom and stepdad in the suburbs. Charlie is sleepy all the time, can’t hold down a job, and can’t afford to drink in bars (he’s already got an MFA, and now works occasionally in construction). He tells her he’s recovering from heroin addiction, but soon it emerges, unsurprisingly, that Charlie is still using. As Leah begins sending her work out to literary journals and thinking about her future, she struggles to navigate a relationship she knows can’t last. Halperin makes the most of the overly familiar subject matter; the “buzzing electric hum” between the couple feels vital, as does the pull of exasperating and enchanting Charlie on Leah. By the end, even the most grizzled reader might turn into a hopeless romantic. Agent: Margaret Riley King, WME. (Apr.)