Severely wounded in the Iraq war, Leroy Kervin has lived in a group home for eight years. Frustrated by the simplest daily routines, he finds his existence has become unbearable. An act of desperation helps him disappear deep into his mind, into a world of romance and science fiction, danger and adventure where he is whole once again.
Freddie McCall, the night man at Leroy's group home, works two jobs yet still can't make ends meet. He's lost his wife and kids, and the house is next. Medical bills have buried him in debt, a situation that propels him to consider a lucrative—and dangerous—proposition.
Pauline Hawkins, a nurse, cares for the sick and wounded, including Leroy. She also looks after her mentally ill elderly father. Yet she remains emotionally removed, until she meets a young runaway who touches something deep and unexpected inside her.
In crystalline prose, both beautiful and devastating, this "major realist talent" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) considers the issues transforming ordinary people's lives—the cost of health care, the lack of economic opportunity, the devastating scars of war—creating an extraordinary contemporary portrait that is also a testament to the resiliency of the human heart.
Horace Hopper is a half-Paiute, half-Irish ranch hand who wants to be somebody. He’s spent most of his life on the ranch of his kindly guardians, Mr. and Mrs. Reese, herding sheep alone in the mountains. But while the Reeses treat him like a son, Horace can’t shake the shame he feels from being abandoned by his parents. He decides to leave the only loving home he’s known to prove his worth by training to become a boxer.
Mr. Reese is holding on to a way of life that is no longer sustainable. He’s a seventy-two-year-old rancher with a bad back. He’s not sure how he’ll keep things going without Horace but he knows the boy must find his own way.
Coming down from the mountains of Nevada to the unforgiving desert heat of Tucson, Horace finds a trainer and begins to get fights. His journey to become a champion brings him to boxing rings of Mexico and finally, to the seedy streets of Las Vegas, where Horace learns he can’t change who he is or outrun his destiny.
Willy Vlautin writes from America’s soul, chronicling the lives of those who are downtrodden and forgotten with profound tenderness. Don’t Skip Out on Me is a beautiful, wrenching story about one man’s search for identity and belonging that will make you consider those around you differently.
Fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson wants a home, food on the table, and a high school he can attend for more than part of a year. But as the son of a single father working in warehouses across the Pacific Northwest, Charley's been pretty much on his own. When tragic events leave him homeless weeks after their move to Portland, Oregon, Charley seeks refuge in the tack room of a run-down horse track. Charley's only comforts are his friendship with a failing racehorse named Lean on Pete and a photograph of his only known relative. In an increasingly desperate circumstance, Charley will head east, hoping to find his aunt who had once lived a thousand miles away in Wyoming—but the journey to find her will be a perilous one.
In Lean on Pete, Willy Vlautin reveals the lives and choices of American youth like Charley Thompson who were failed by those meant to protect them and who were never allowed the chance to just be a kid.
“The writing is spare and straightforward. . . . There is intensity in Vlautin’s narration, and also beauty and power . . . Vlautin’s major accomplishment lies in posing a damning question: How could we, as a society, have allowed this to happen?”— Seattle Times