cover image The Residue Years

The Residue Years

Mitchell S. Jackson. Bloomsbury, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-1-62040-028-9

A Portland, Ore., family struggles to stay together despite the overwhelming effects of the crack epidemic in Jackson’s gritty autobiographical novel. Fresh out of her nth time in court-ordered rehab, Grace does everything she can to stay focused on the most important thing in her life—her three boys. No longer able to get the corporate jobs she had in the past, she toils at a fast-food restaurant and tries to avoid her old crowd so she can finally share a home with her children. Meanwhile, her eldest, Champ, deals the very thing that put his mother into rehab, so that he can give his family what he believes they deserve. He is intent on being his mother’s lifeline, providing her with a car and new clothes, while juggling college, his girlfriend, and his younger brothers. The narrative shifts between Grace and Champ as they stumble towards finding the right way to provide a home for the ones they love in a cycle that was designed for failure. At times, the pain and desperation of the family is swallowed by the overwritten prose. However, Jackson’s dedication to the shadows and unhappiness of his characters shines through at the crucial moments. Agent: Liz Darhansoff (Aug.)