A promising young man is killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Jack Conroy has it all–wealthy parents, a beautiful girlfriend, a business degree from Duke (where he was captain of the swim team) and the sincerity and kindness of a saint. After graduation, Jack must make a difficult decision: follow in his father’s footsteps on Wall Street or take a job as a landscape designer for a local nursery. His heart says nursery; his parents say New York. So he takes the Wall Street job, in the south tower of the World Trade Center, but when the terrorist attacks occur on Sept. 11, Jack is killed. The second part of the story follows Jack’s parents, Catherine and Alexander, and Veronica, his girlfriend, as they cope with their loss. Alexander and Catherine have been living a largely empty life in New Jersey. After the tragedy, the couple spiral further downward, Catherine losing herself in memory and the past and Alexander drinking away his sorrows, in scenes that smack of melodrama and clichÃ©. Meanwhile, Veronica has gone home to her parents, where her severe depression over Jack’s death–and her belief that, by not stopping Jack from taking the job in New York, she was complicit in his death–is compounded by the revelation that she is pregnant with Jack’s baby. Unfortunately, this narrative, far more interesting and potentially complex than that of Jack’s distasteful parents, does not get the attention it deserves. Indeed, the major flaw of the novel is its overall skimpiness. Kinsella clearly has ability, but the lack of real character development and overly simplistic, pop-psychological portrayals of Jack’s loved ones drain whatever emotional power the climactic scenes might have held.
A promising novel that doesn’t quite live up to its potential.