A quiet novel of personal and seasonal change set in a small town in New Hampshire.
Nicki Groh seems to have it all. She’s about to graduate from high school, and although she just missed being valedictorian, she’s off to Princeton in the fall. But a week before graduation she agrees to attend an evening boat party with Willie Boots, a hot-shot pitcher for the baseball team and son of a prominent businessman. Willie tries to rape Nicki, who barely escapes. She swims to shore and is rescued by Russell Blatt, a former classmate who’s about to leave for greener—or at least warmer—pastures. Nicki decides to go with him, not simply to escape the Willies of the world but also to get away from a heated but dead-end sexual relationship she was having with the high-school math teacher and the pressures of going to an Ivy League school she’s not at all sure she wants to attend. Nicki and Russell, who much to Nicki’s chagrin is gay, travel to North Carolina and find jobs waiting tables at a summer resort. Back in New Hampshire, village life begins to unravel. Nicki’s adoptive parents are at first concerned about and then resigned to her absence. Meanwhile, Willie’s father grows estranged from his wife, who in a spasm of midlife unpredictability decides she wants to become an actress. Willie gets a summer job as a security guard and finds himself entangled, both literally and metaphorically, with Joan Doyle, who casually dispenses sexual favors to local high-school boys. When Nicki comes back at the end of the novel, she’s serene, mature and pregnant.
Brookhouse (Dear Otto, 1995, etc.) writes confidently and unobtrusively about authentic issues.