Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2017-01-09
- Reviewer: Staff
In Halsteads debut novel, a young man returns to his Appalachian roots after his fathers suicide and struggles with the simultaneous love and hate he feels for his West Virginia hometown. Jamie Paddock has been in New York City since a failed attempt at college, working for an advertising company, going to parties, and trying (unsuccessfully) to concentrate on his writing. When his father jumps off a bridge, Jamie hesitates to go back to West Virginia; without a body, no funeral arrangements have been made. But after spending a couple of evenings with a bizarre woman who steals a treasured memento from his childhood, Jamie boards a train home. Back home in Mount Lookout, he is reminded of the specific brand of poverty in which his family lives and unearths strange details about his fathers pasta rejection letter from an art gallery, a stolen goatthat make him question his image of the man and his family. The narrative relies on some predictable archetypes but is bolstered by Jamies overall likability and the beautiful, menacing descriptions of the West Virginian environment. This tale of family ties without a falsely satisfying resolution introduces a powerful and authentic voice. (Jan.)