WE’RE IN TROUBLE by Christopher Coake
Kirkus Star


Email this review


Seven stories in a first collection that has astonishing range and empathy.

The title piece is a suite of three heart-stopping vignettes that capture intense moments between couples. On a passionate weekend, a young man and his new lover, recently detached from other partners, start to tell intimate stories, and he ends up speaking close to the bone; a lesbian pair, preparing to have a child together, are thrown for a loop by witnessing a two-year-old girl’s death in an auto accident; and a man of 79, diagnosed with cancer, prepares his wife and friends for a final show of love. Three characters tell “Cross Country”—a nine-year-old, driving with his father to Chicago, who notices a boy his age with a man at a truck stop and imagines he is in danger; the man with the other boy, whom he is taking away from his mother; and that boy, who suspects the man isn’t telling him the truth but realizes he now needs him for protection. “Solos” traces a wife’s ambiguity about her husband’s mountain climbing as he risks his life to break a record and leaves her at home with their son. “In the Event” is a moving account of the night Danny, who considers himself a ne’er-do-well, learns that his best friend and his wife have been killed and he is now responsible for his three-year-old godson. “Abandon” follows two damaged young lovers to the Upper Peninsula, where a romantic weekend turns into a harrowing struggle for survival. A young wife attending a holiday party for her husband’s company is attracted to an employee and is reminded (“A Single Awe”) of the night her husband saved a woman from a burning car, an act of heroism that locked them together. “All Through the House” jumps in time, offering perspectives on the murderous last evening of a man who kills his wife, young sons, and in-laws.

A knockout debut striking for its fluid and original shifts of point of view, as well as its haunting depictions of characters who are all real in their responses to suffering.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-15-101094-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2005