cover image Night Letter

Night Letter

Sterling Watson. Akashic, $28.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-63614-063-6

Set in the mid-1960s, Watson’s captivating sequel to 2002’s Sweet Dream Baby takes emotionally confused 18-year-old Travis Hollister, who has spent six years in a Nebraska reform school atoning for crimes he committed in the earlier book, home to Panama City, Fla., where he finds work as a busboy at a seafood restaurant. Still haunted by his troubled childhood and the sins of his past, including stabbing a boy in self-defense, Travis looks to reunite with Delia, his brazen aunt whom he idolized and fell in love with when he was 12 and she was 16. Years after their illicit liaison, Delia wants forgiveness and for them both to continue moving on separately. Meanwhile, Travis finds an opportunity for salvation helping Dawnell Briscoe, a “knock-out” of about 16 he meets one night outside the restaurant, escape the confines of her abusive family and their gossipy close-knit community for something grander. Watson evocatively blends the dreamy, hormonally addled banality of teen life with the existential anxieties of lost innocence and regret. Fans of S.E. Hinton’s rough-hewn teens and the gothic noir of Tennessee Williams will welcome this bittersweet tale of redemption. Agent: Ann Rittenberg, Ann Rittenberg Literary. (Jan.)