It s the summer of 1988 in northeastern Kansas, an area home to four prisons that has been shaken by the recent escape of a convict. But for two young brothers in Leavenworth, the only thing that matters is the pool in their apartment complex. Their mother forbids the boys to swim alone, but she s always at work trying to make ends meet after splitting with their police-officer father.Read more...
It s the summer of 1988 in northeastern Kansas, an area home to four prisons that has been shaken by the recent escape of a convict. But for two young brothers in Leavenworth, the only thing that matters is the pool in their apartment complex. Their mother forbids the boys to swim alone, but she s always at work trying to make ends meet after splitting with their police-officer father. With no one home to supervise, the boys decide to break the rules.
While blissfully practicing their cannonballs and dives, they meet Chris, a mysterious stranger who promises an escape from their broken-home blues. As the older brother and Chris grow closer, the wary younger brother desperately tries to keep his best friend from slipping away.
Beautifully atmospheric and psychologically suspenseful, Cote Smith s "Hurt People" will hold you in its grip to the very last page, reminding us that when we re not paying attention, we often hurt the ones we claim to love the most."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-12-14
- Reviewer: Staff
In Smiths tense, haunting debut novel, expanded from his noted short story in One Story, the year is 1988 in Leavenworth, Kan., a nexus of four prisons, where we meet two brothers, nine and 11, whose parents have recently split. The boys move with their mother into an apartment complex, where they become obsessed with its swimming pool. Their father is a police officer who is busy trying to track down a killer who has just escaped from Leavenworth Prison, which sets off a panic in the community. Left to their own devices at the pool, the boys meet Chris, a charismatic stranger, and fall under his spell. Their harried mother is so distracted by money problems and her sleazy boy friend, Rick, who manages the golf course where she works, that she is unaware of her sons secret friend and his growing influence over them, especially the older one. Once Chriss true nature is revealed, readers will be reminded of The Night of the Hunter for its depiction of two youthful innocents forced to confront implacable evil. Smith has his story narrated by the younger brother, who at times seems to have a too-mature grasp of all the bad adult behavior surrounding him. Although the premise is a little convenient and the narrative sometimes feels padded, the author compensates with razor-sharp characterizations, a richly evoked period setting, and the sense of a community forever living in the shadow of fear. Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME Entertainment. (Mar.)