After years of alcohol and drug abuse, John reunites with his shattered family.
A terrible accident has left John’s brother, Ryan, with severe brain damage, and the aftermath is destroying the family. Due to his destructive behavior as a 10-year-old, John was sent to live with his father, away from his sister, his mother, and Ryan, who must use a wheelchair. John spent many of those years self-anesthetizing with booze and pot. Now a senior in high school, John has returned home to face his family, escape the loss of his girlfriend, and try to stay clean. Every member of this damaged, white family struggles with crippling guilt over what happened to Ryan, and they are all bungling love, lashing out at one another. Despite extensive support from teachers, a therapist, a parole officer, and an exceptionally interesting girl, Emily, John resorts again and again to his chemical crutches. Meanwhile, Ryan can’t feed himself or walk and has violent outbursts, and their mom has developed a troubling cough. When another near tragedy occurs, the family is shaken from its cloudy malaise into clarity. Through John’s first-person voice, by turns vulnerable and angry, the story effectively builds up to an account of the accident from the outside in, very gradually revealing what actually occurred the day of Ryan’s injury.
A stirring close-up of a family haunted by emotional trauma. (Fiction. 12-18)