Named one of The Guardian 's "Best Books of 2016"
Set in the Pacific Northwest in the jittery, jacked-up early 1990s, Shelter in Place , by one of America's most thrillingly defiant contemporary authors, is a stylish literary novel about the hereditary nature of mental illness, the fleeting intensity of youth, the obligations of family, and the dramatic consequences of love. Read more...
Named one of The Guardian's "Best Books of 2016"
Set in the Pacific Northwest in the jittery, jacked-up early 1990s, Shelter in Place, by one of America's most thrillingly defiant contemporary authors, is a stylish literary novel about the hereditary nature of mental illness, the fleeting intensity of youth, the obligations of family, and the dramatic consequences of love.
Joseph March, a twenty-one-year-old working class kid from Seattle, is on top of the world. He has just graduated college and his future beckons, unencumbered, limitless, magnificent. Joe's life implodes when he starts to suffer the symptoms of bipolar disorder, and, not long after, his mother kills a man she's never met with a hammer.
Joe moves to White Pine, Washington, where his mother is serving time and his father has set up house. He is followed by Tess Wolff, a fiercely independent woman with whom he has fallen in love. The lives of Joe, Tess, and Joe's father fall into the slow rhythm of daily prison visits followed by beer and pizza at a local bar. Meanwhile, Anne-Marie March, Joe's mother, is gradually becoming a local heroine many see her crime as a furious, exasperated act of righteous rebellion. Tess, too, has fallen under her spell. Spurred on by Anne-Marie's example, Tess enlists Joe in a secret, violent plan that will forever change their lives.
Maksik sings of modern America's battered soul and of the lacerating emotions that make us human. Magnetic and masterfully told, Shelter in Place is about the things in life we are willing to die for, and those we're willing to kill for."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-07-25
- Reviewer: Staff
Finding peace and learning to deal with the consequences of one’s actions are just two of the many thematic currents pulsing through Maksik’s scorching third novel (after A Marker to Measure Drift). Set in various towns throughout the Pacific Northwest and hurtling back and forth in time from the early 1990s to the present, the bleak story is narrated by Joe March, whose mother, Anne-Marie, is sent to jail in 1991 when Joe is 20. Around the same time, Joe meets Tess—the love of his life—and after a period of brief separation, the two move to White Pine, Wash., where the prison is located. Anne-Marie’s crime—hammering a man to death in a grocery store parking for abusing his wife—soon attracts the admiration of female followers (including Tess) who have “run out of patience” and “have reached their limit” of what they’ll accept from men. In the second half of the book, Tess hatches a plot to punish a wife-beating neighbor and involves Joe, allowing Maksik to deliver a portrait of Joe’s bipolar disorder—which he describes as a “creeping tar” and “a blue-black bird, its talons piercing my lung”—that is honest and devastating. Both the meandering story and the way Joe expresses his thoughts feel accurately claustrophobic. Where Maksik really excels is in his unrestrained depiction of a perpetually broken man who can’t help loving volatile, vulnerable Tess, all the while desperately figuring out how to forgive the woman who raised him. Agent: Eric Simonoff, WME Entertainment. (Sept.)