From Publishers Weekly
Owen (Rock of Ages) offers parallel coming-of-age stories in this hardheaded look at two very different eras. In Richmond, Va., in 2004, 16-year-old Jake James is still dealing with his mother's recent death, his first serious love affair, and his girlfriend's jealous and menacing ex-boyfriend when Freeman Hawk, his father George's iconoclast friend, reappears after decades of exile in Canada. Unfortunately for the Jameses, Hawk's problems are not in the safely distant past but in Montreal's criminal underworld of the present, and those problems have followed him back to Virginia. Owen doesn't overstate the flaws of either period, neither painting the 1960s as an era of misguided dreams nor, despite George's nostalgia, the present as a betrayal of lost ideals. George may be weak and foolish, Hawk self-serving, and Jake inexperienced, but each shows he can rise to the occasion despite his weaknesses. Owens interweaves father's and son's stories skillfully while steering them toward the inevitable violent conclusion. (Dec.) (c)
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In the 1960s, George James and Freeman Hawk were college roomies. George, the traditionalist, and Freeman, the adventurer, made a sort of intellectual odd couple, and it didn’t take long for Freeman to convince George there were new and exciting ways to look at the world. Now, in 2004, George is a recently widowed single parent; he and his teenage son, Jake, have an uneasy relationship, and Jake’s own personal life is beginning to spiral out of control. Unexpectedly, Freeman appears out of nowhere—well, out of Canada, where he’s been living for the past three decades. He has a serious problem (a couple of them, actually), and, in trying to get to the bottom of the story, George must confront his own troubled past. This complex, character-driven novel challenges readers to assemble in their own minds the chronology of George’s life; the author moves from present-day events to past memories fluidly, assembling the bigger picture a piece at a time. The writing is precise and economical; not a scene is wasted. Another fine novel from a consistently interesting writer. --David Pitt