A debut novel chronicles the joys, sorrows, and adventures of a young North Dakota man with cystic fibrosis.
Surrounding Sean Foster’s story are the varied narratives of his friends and extended family—all physically or psychologically flawed through no fault of their own. His sister, Sara, has control issues; his girlfriend, Jenessa “Jen” Quinto, is a rape survivor; and Jen’s father, Diego, is a disabled veteran abused by his wife, Suzanna. Foster lives with his adoptive mother, Claire, and Sara, her biological daughter. His relationship with Jen begins when she visits him during one of his many stays in the hospital, this time for a lung infection brought on by his cystic fibrosis. The two grow to know each other trading horror stories about being bullied. Upon his release, their love affair blossoms but then seems to end when Jen mysteriously disappears under circumstances everyone but Foster seems to know. In anger, he takes a wild ride in Sara’s pickup truck and crashes into a semi. Once again hospitalized, Foster teeters in a limbo state between life and death, with his incorporeal self wandering the wards and encountering various apparitions, including Jen’s dead brother, Cam. Eventually, Foster recovers and Jen returns with a big surprise. Joined by the ghosts and Sara’s new Jesus-like boyfriend, Johnny Phoenix, and his entourage, Foster and Jen set out to save Diego from his wife and himself. In this engrossing coming-of-age tale that explores timely issues, Ramsey has a real talent for capturing her characters through small, subtle details, such as the way teenagers like Foster eat: “I arrived first and ordered a hot chocolate and a cookie for lunch.” The author takes great pains developing her diverse cast and dropping subtle hints in the first third of the book that render the introduction of the supernatural plausible. This is especially true for Foster, a young man so laid back that it is no wonder he takes interacting with spirits in stride.
This solid tale about living a full life in the face of challenges delivers a seamless combination of religion, New Age beliefs, and the supernatural.