Courtney Cole grew up in rural Kansas and now lives with her husband and kids in Florida, where she writes beneath palm trees and is still in love with the idea of magic and happily-ever-after. She is the author of Saving Beck and Mine.
During a terrible heat wave in 1991—the worst in a decade—ten-year-old Anton has been locked in an apartment in the projects, alone, for seven days, without air conditioning or a fan. With no electricity, the refrigerator and lights do not work. Hot, hungry, and desperate, Anton shatters a window and climbs out. Cutting his leg on the broken glass, he is covered in blood when the police find him.
Juanita, his mother, is discovered in a crack house less than three blocks away, nearly unconscious and half-naked. When she comes to, she repeatedly asks for her baby boy. She never meant to leave Anton—she went out for a quick hit and was headed right back, until her drug dealer raped her and kept her high. Though the bond between mother and son is extremely strong, Anton is placed with child services while Juanita goes to jail.
The Harvard-educated son of a US senator, Judge David Coleman is a scion of northeastern white privilege. Desperate to have a child in the house again after the tragic death of his teenage son, David uses his power and connections to keep his new foster son, Anton, with him and his wife, Delores—actions that will have devastating consequences in the years to come.
Following in his adopted family’s footsteps, Anton, too, rises within the establishment. But when he discovers the truth about his life, his birth mother, and his adopted parents, this man of the law must come to terms with the moral complexities of crimes committed by the people he loves most.
Helen Garner is one of Australia’s finest authors. In 2006 she received the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature, and in 2016 she won the prestigious Windham–Campbell Prize for non-fiction. Her novels include Monkey Grip, The Children’s Bach, Cosmo Cosmolino and The Spare Room.
I rolled and rolled in the water, deafening my ears while I thought of, and discarded, all the reasons why I shouldn’t go. I popped up, hanging on to the rail, hair streaming on my neck.
‘OK. I’ll come.’
Javo was looking at me.
So, afterwards, it is possible to see the beginning of things, the point at which you had already plunged in, while at the time you thought you were only testing the water with your toe.
‘Garner is a natural storyteller.’ James Wood, New Yorker
‘Her use of language is sublime.’ Scotsman
‘This is the power of Garner’s writing. She drills into experience and comes up with such clean, precise distillations of life, once you read them they enter into you. Successive generations of writers have felt the keen influence of her work and for this reason Garner has become part of us all.’ Australian
‘Its embattled characters are so real that by the last page you feel not just that you have read a magnificent novel but that you have experienced life itself.’ The Times on The Spare Room