After a lonely teenage outcast commits a horrific crime, his family and friends are left to pick up the pieces.
A cruel prank orchestrated by local bad boy Wesley Thompson pushes the closeted Ricky Graves to kill both himself and his tormenter. Once the reporters drift away, no one wants to talk about what happened with Ricky, least of all his sister, Alyssa. With “no job, little money, [and] no real friends,” Alyssa returns to small-town New Hampshire to help her mother deal with Ricky’s suicide, “this totally messed-up thing, like impossible to process.” In a series of fast-paced, first-person vignettes, Mattson collects the voices of those still reeling from Ricky’s death, from classmates to internet chat buddies. There’s Jeremy Little, the San Francisco–based accountant Ricky reached out to via Man-Date chat rooms; Corky Meeks, Alyssa’s ex-boyfriend and Ricky’s self-appointed mentor; Mark McVitry, a classmate suffering from PTSD and bloody visions of Ricky’s murder-suicide; and Claire Chang, who feels compelled to help Mark recover but whose reasons for doing so are murky even to herself. While at times the structure of the novel forces its themes, Mattson expertly teases out the relationships between our real lives and our social media feeds, the faces we show to the world and the ones we must confront in the mirror.
A moving debut about the intersections of rural queerness, the internet, and forgiveness.