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The Boy: A Novel Hardcover – January 15, 2013
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Santoro’s second novel (after Mercy, 2007), follows one woman’s unraveling after an affair with a younger man propels her to reexamine her perspectives on motherhood and her own identity. A former journalist, Anna is now a single mother in her forties. She and her precocious 8-year-old daughter, Eva, are now living in New Mexico after a bitter split with Eva’s father, who remains in England. An addition to their household is Espi, Eva’s protective caretaker, who has alcohol and gambling problems. The neighbor’s 20-year-old son, a college dropout, is inexplicably drawn to Anna, and the two begin an affair. When Eva travels abroad to spend time with her father, “the boy” moves in with Anna, much to the displeasure of seemingly everyone. Things inevitably begin to lurch out of control as the demons of Anna’s former life come into play, and her self-involved choices lead to catastrophic events in her life and the lives of those around her. Santoro’s fast-paced style aptly conveys Anna’s frenetic downward spiral. --Leah Strauss
"I read it in one go, with my heart in my mouth. Witty, compulsive, sensuous, and brutally honest about the price of motherhood."―Emma Donoghue, author of Room
"Lara Santoro's The Boy is both a swift and seductive novel. To experience such brutal beauty is why I read fiction."―Alice Sebold, author of The Almost Moon
"I read this novel in one sitting and was mesmerized, addicted, charmed, jealous. The Boy is gorgeous, fiercely intelligent, deeply honest, and incredibly entertaining."―Anne Lamott, author of Some Assembly Required
"The Boy is beautifully written, beguiling in its fashion, hypnotic and swiftly paced. Lara Santoro tells a morally complicated and edgy story and doesn't retreat, but stays true to her music. The word brave comes to mind, as does masterful."―Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone
"Lara Santoro is a brilliant novelist whose vision is fierce and unsparingly clear. The Boy is a beautiful, brutally sensuous novel."―Kate Christensen, author of The Great Man
"Lara Santoro drills deep down, to the maelstrom of desire and despair that we cover up with the stories we tell ourselves. Unflinching and passionate, fierce and tender, The Boy is both a love story between parents and children, and a coming-of-age story for all women who are old enough to know better. It broke my heart."―Allegra Huston, author of Love Child
"The Boy unfolds with terse, impressionistic rapidity-like a spare, brutalist modern fairy tale....You can't turn away."―Ben Dickinson, Elle
"Brilliant....Ms. Santoro has crafted a book just as fascinating [as Junot Diaz's This Is How You Lose Her], twice as stark, and simply unforgettable."―Autumn Markus, New York Journal of Books
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Top Customer Reviews
Anna attempts to resist, but the Boy is a deep well, a watcher, and perhaps Anna needs to be watched, to be seen, despite her attempts to hide herself behind words, to keep her back to the wall, to retreat to the safety of having one drink too many, despite her daughter Eva's attempts to keep the boy barred from their lives. This is a novel about deep ache, loneliness, trauma that cannot be easily untangled, about simple acts and simple lives being far from simple. Even Esperanza, the red-eyed house-keeper who does not smoke dope, does not lead a simple life.
As the book unwinds, we are drawn into the savageness of daily life and its wants and desires. I stayed up all night to finish this book, reading it straight through. If you're expecting a romance novel, you'll be disappointed. This is not that. It is a novel about the darkness, deepness, and the purity of the moments when Anna is seen and finally sees herself.
The reader can see the inevitable conclusion of this novel, but even this knowledge doesn't detract from reading this novel. I finished this book in a matter of hours. I still don't know exactly how I felt about it. Like I said, it's tragic. It was completely absorbing. I think that-- from the moment the characters clap eyes on each other-- the reader has a sense of foreboding, a whispering of the fact that this book will not end well. The writing style is stark, but evocative. The timeline of the story is often not linear-- there are lots of flashback with no warnings. I found it made the story more interesting; it certainly helped with character development. I would recommend this book, but it is not for people looking for a simple romance novel.