A debut novel from Hruska, publisher of Soho Press.
The author begins with Sean Benning. Sean’s wife, Ellie, has walked out. He’s raising their only child, 8-year-old Toby. Toby is a student at the famous Bradley School, where everyone who is anyone has matriculated. Once a legacy school for the rich, it has grown into a legacy school for the rich with a few token minorities (Ellie’s parents, wealthy alumni, pay Toby’s exorbitant tuition). Sean is an artist, not quite starving, with a rent-controlled two-bedroom on NYC's West Side. He has a day job at Buzz, a tabloid devoted to celebrity anatomy. Gino, paparazzo extraordinaire, is on speed dial. At a visit to Bradley, we witness humorless school psychologist Bev Shineman pursing Sean with missionary zeal, preaching the gospel of ADHD. During the same visit, Sean meets and falls hard for Toby’s new teacher, Jessica “Jess” Harper. He and Jess discover Calvin, a student from Toby’s class, in the stairwell. The convulsing child, apparently the victim of a peanut allergy, is the accelerant that ignites young love. Insecure about his single-parenting skills, Sean succumbs to the relentless Bev, visits an expensive psychiatrist, the diagnosis a fait accompli. What form will the inevitable complications take? Will trouble come from Bev or from the smooth-talking Walt Renard, a graduate of Bradley who remains involved in the school; or from Rick, Sean's loudmouth boss? What will be Sean’s exit strategy from his marriage? Will his show at the prestigious Burdot gallery allow him to escape the numbing Buzz? Will Jess return to her fiance? Tune in and see.
Though Hruska has a soft touch with characterization, this book does not have sufficient velocity to escape from predictability.