cover image December Boys: A Jay Porter Novel

December Boys: A Jay Porter Novel

Joe Clifford. Oceanview (Midpoint, dist.), $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-60809-171-3

Clifford’s harsh, emotionally raw sequel to 2014’s Lamentation finds Jay Porter, now a New Hampshire insurance adjustor, suffering from the effects of his guilt and grief surrounding the “suicide by cop” of his junkie brother, Chris. Separated from his wife and son by his anger and heavy drinking, Jay is distracted from his personal problems by a court case involving a teenager who’s arrested for minor drug possession and sent to a private behavioral modification detention facility. Jay investigates and learns that this questionable practice is widespread. Portrayals of the men trapped in the sea of toxic masculinity are spot on, though those of an opportunistic female clerk and the families bullied into sending their kids up the river ring much less true. Still, the deeply affecting essence of the book is really in Jay’s struggle with managing his depression, rage, and panic attacks. Despite a bit of mental health care preachiness, Clifford has written a very human tale of redemption. Agent: Elizabeth Kracht, Kimberly Cameron & Associates. (June)