In Sales’ debut novel, she mines the complex relationship between father and son. When the story begins, 10-year-old Pete is running away from home. Seeking shelter, he meets kindly Jake, an ex-soldier who lives by himself in a shack and has his own issues. Jake finds that Pete has left home because his mother is in the hospital after a failed suicide attempt, and his father, Rob—also ex-military—spends his time either working or abusing Pete. The boy is failing school and feels unloved and unaccepted no matter where he turns. Gradually, Jake gets to the bottom of Pete’s problems. But it turns out that he isn’t the only family member who needs fixing. Rob’s sadistic temper and his wife’s loathing of both herself and Pete are other serious issues that need resolution before they destroy the struggling family. However, the more Jake digs, the closer he gets to a truth so terrible that it might be impossible for the family to recover from it. Sales’ debut is an excellent novel that explores the many intricate emotions that constitute a family dynamic, particularly how those emotions can provide salvation, isolation or sometimes both. The author affectingly limns Jake’s and Rob’s PTSD. Although Pete’s belief that he failed his demanding father drives the story, Rob provides its center—a man caught in an emotional vortex that he can neither understand nor control. The story moves briskly along, and the desperate attempts of Pete and his family to deal with their problems will resonate with most readers.
An emotionally honest, thoughtful novel about families whose superpowers involve coping with the everyday.