cover image The Fragile World

The Fragile World

Paula Treick DeBoard. Mira, $14.95 ISBN 978-0-7783-1676-3

DeBoard’s second novel (after The Mourning Hours) explores revenge and redemption through the eyes of a grieving family. Daniel Kaufman—musical prodigy, honor student, and all-around nice guy—is killed in an apparent hit-and-run collision shortly after he begins his freshman year at Oberlin. Five years later, the Kaufman family has completely fallen apart. Daniel’s father, Curtis, can’t shake his obsession with the man responsible for Daniel’s death; mother Kathleen has deserted the family and moved from Sacramento to Omaha; and anxious younger sister Olivia keeps meticulous track of every irrational fear that crosses her mind. Shortly after learning that Daniel’s killer has been released from prison, Curtis has a breakdown, and he and Olivia pack up the car and hit the road for what she thinks is an impromptu father–daughter road trip. But Curtis has an ulterior motive—he thinks he’s figured out what will finally set things right for the Kaufmans. Although the highway is dotted with stock characters and routine plot twists (naturally, the car’s transmission breaks down in the middle of nowhere), DeBoard deftly navigates a complicated father-daughter relationship through alternating first-person narratives. Tension builds as Curtis inches ever closer to his perceived destiny; readers will be guessing until the last page. (Nov.)