cover image Our Endless Numbered Days

Our Endless Numbered Days

Claire Fuller. Tin House (PGW, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (388p) ISBN 978-1-941040-01-0

Like Emma Donoghue’s Room, Fuller’s thoroughly immersive debut takes child kidnapping to a whole new level of disturbing. Eight-year-old Peggy Hillcoat suspects her father, James, has gone off his rocker when he builds a fallout shelter in the basement of their London home to prepare for the end of the world. But the ante is upped when, unbeknownst to his wife, he takes Peggy to an isolated, shabby log cabin in the Dutch wilderness and tells her the rest of the world has been destroyed: “On the other side there is only emptiness, an awful place that has eaten everything except our own little kingdom.... [It’s] called the Great Divide.” For the next nine years, the pair lives off the land as James grows increasingly fanatic and Peggy evolves from a scared and naive girl into a self-sufficient young woman. When she eventually returns to civilization alone— malnourished, with rotten teeth, and deliriously rambling about someone named Reuben—doctors’ attempts to figure out the identity and whereabouts of the mysterious mountain man only scratch the surface of what actually happened to her and her father. Fuller alternates Peggy’s time in the forest with chapters that take place in 1985 after she reunites with her mother—building an ever-present sense of foreboding and allowing readers to piece together well-placed clues. Fuller’s book has the winning combination of an unreliable narrator and a shocking ending. (Mar.)