cover image All This Life

All This Life

Joshua Mohr. Counterpoint/Soft Skull (PGW, dist.), $25 (304p) ISBN 978-1-59376-603-0

Mohr’s poignant and darkly funny fifth novel (after 2013’s Fight Song) weaves together the stories of seven protagonists whose lives are all touched by a bizarre mass suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge. Paul and his 14-year-old son, Jake, witness the event firsthand as Jake films the jumpers hurling themselves into the water. He finds solace in uploading the video to the Web and watching its number of views rise. Noah, who (unbeknownst to Jake) is a brother to one of the suicides, corresponds with Jake via the comments section of the video. During his many hours online, Jake also watches a sex tape featuring Sara, a 19-year-old from Traurig, a small town in Nevada, after Sara’s ex-boyfriend posts it on a porn site. The clip goes viral and ruins Sara’s reputation in Traurig. After everyone turns their back on her, Sara realizes that her childhood sweetheart, Rodney, who once had an accident that damaged his ability to speak, still cares for her. She embraces Rodney’s suggestion that they drive to San Francisco to find the mom who abandoned him shortly after his accident. That mom, Kathleen, is fighting demons, and Rodney’s 18th birthday comes and goes. Guilt and regret build to a crescendo, and the book’s momentous climax takes the characters back to the Golden Gate Bridge. Mohr’s narrative is by turns heartrending and humorous, with never a dull moment. Readers will love this cast of characters. (July)