Booklist Reviews 2018 August #1
Gifted storyteller Dubus follows his short story collection, Dirty Love (2013), with his first novel in 10 years, which finds adjunct composition professor Susan Dunn taking some time away from her husband, Bobby, ostensibly to work on the book that has long eluded her. While staying with her grandmother Lois, Susan begins to unravel the suppressed emotional trauma she experienced when her father killed her mother in a fit of jealous rage when Susan was just three years old. Her father, Daniel Ahearn, in an advanced stage of prostate cancer, wishes to see Susan before he dies, seeking forgiveness for the violent act that has haunted him for 40 years. Dubus evokes a dazzling palette of emotions as he skillfully unpacks the psychological tensions between remorse and guilt, fear and forgiveness, anger and love. Susan, Daniel, and Lois are fully realized and authentic characters who live with pain and heartache while struggling to fill the tremendous void created by the tragedy. Heartrending yet unsentimental, this powerful testament to the human spirit asks what it means to atone for the unforgivable and to empathize with the broken. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Dubus, the recipient of many literary honors and a reader favorite, will tour nationally, while media coverage will be vigorous. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2018 June #1
House of Sand and Fog author Dubus returns with the story of Susan Dunn, a hapless adjunct professor who cannot complete her novel or return her husband's love. What's worse, her father murdered her mother when Susan was young and now, released from prison and dying, wants to meet.
Copyright 2018 Library Journal.
LJ Reviews 2018 September #1
Perhaps best known for the novel House of Sand and Fog, a National Book Award finalist later adapted into a film of the same name, Dubus also authored the 2011 memoir Townie, which details his violent childhood and estrangement from his father. Echoing Townie, this new novel unfolds around Daniel Ahern, imprisoned for murdering his wife in a jealous rage, and his estranged daughter, Susan, who witnessed the crime at a young age. Upon his release from prison, Daniel reflects on how his violent tendencies reflect his own childhood and yearns to reconnect with his daughter. Meanwhile, Susan begins a novel to unpack years of trauma and finds her thoughts drifting toward her absentee father. When Daniel finally tracks her down, Susan is awash in feelings of pity and rage toward a father who abandoned her. Dubus masterfully employs minimal dialog between the two characters, underscoring how reunification often manifests as a temporary dissolution of thoughts and words. VERDICT A dark and exquisitely crafted novel that views parental relationships as both a form of inherited violence and redemptive empathy. [See Prepub Alert, 40/30/18.]—Joshua Finnell, Colgate Univ., Hamilton, NY
Copyright 2018 Library Journal.
PW Reviews 2018 August #1
Dubus (Townie) renders this story of love, jealousy, guilt, and atonement in a voice that rings with authenticity and evokes the texture of working-class lives. Danny Ahern and Linda Dubie grow up in the same town north of Boston. As teenagers, Danny is awkward and unattractive, while Linda is beautiful and smart. Their love affair and marriage is a blue-collar Beauty and the Beast, but Danny's wild love for his wife turns to jealousy and fear that she will leave him. When that seems imminent, he fatally stabs her in a moment of madness, while their three-year-old daughter, Susan, looks on uncomprehendingly. Danny goes to prison, and Susan is raised by her maternal grandmother, a woman locked in hatred and bitterness about her daughter's tragic demise. After a terminally ill Danny is released 40 years later, he hopes to find Susan. Susan, meanwhile, has never been able to feel real love, and even in her marriage to a kind and understanding man, she is trapped in self-doubt and depression. As the aftereffects of the murder continue to reverberate through their lives, events move to a climax during a hot night in Florida where Susan, newly pregnant, and her father finally confront each other. Though the entire cast is vividly drawn, perhaps most impressive is how Dubus elicits sympathy in the reader for Danny, whose life effectively ended the moment he picked up the knife. This is a compassionate and wonderful novel. (Oct.)
Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.