cover image The Reckoning

The Reckoning

Howard Owen, Permanent, $28 (222p) ISBN 978-1-57962-207-7

Owen (Rock of Ages) offers parallel coming-of-age stories in this hardheaded look at two very different eras. In Richmond, Va., in 2004, 16-year-old Jake James is still dealing with his mother's recent death, his first serious love affair, and his girlfriend's jealous and menacing ex-boyfriend when Freeman Hawk, his father George's iconoclast friend, reappears after decades of exile in Canada. Unfortunately for the Jameses, Hawk's problems are not in the safely distant past but in Montreal's criminal underworld of the present, and those problems have followed him back to Virginia. Owen doesn't overstate the flaws of either period, neither painting the 1960s as an era of misguided dreams nor, despite George's nostalgia, the present as a betrayal of lost ideals. George may be weak and foolish, Hawk self-serving, and Jake inexperienced, but each shows he can rise to the occasion despite his weaknesses. Owens interweaves father's and son's stories skillfully while steering them toward the inevitable violent conclusion. (Dec.)