“Genuine, engaging, and unforgettable...With this stunning debut novel, Hornbacher...proves herself to be a master storyteller.”
— Booklist (starred review)
At the center of winter, in Motley, Minnesota, Arnold Schiller gives in to the oppressive season that reigns outside and also to his own inner demons -- he commits suicide, leaving a devastated family in his wake.
Claire Schiller, wife and mother, must emerge from her grief and help her two young children to recover. Twelve-year-old Esau is haunted by the same darkness that plagued his father. Already he has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals, and now he must overcome the forces that drive him deep into himself. Six-year-old Kate tries to help her mother hold the family together but has to come to terms with the memory of her father, who was at once loving and cruel.
Narrated alternately by Claire, Kate, and Esau, this powerful novel explores the ways in which both children and adults experience tragic events, discover solace and hope in one another, and survive.
“Hornbacher succeeds marvelously...[She] constructs a kaleidoscope of speakers at times beautiful and often disturbing...[An] adroit first novel.”
— Los Angeles Book Review
“Hornbacher’s debut novel is one of triumph and survival...A gripping tale of a family that copes despite the odds.”
— Library Journal
“Told alternately by Claire, Kate and Esau... Hornbacher finds the perfect pitch for their voices and their stories.”
— Baltimore Sun
“Uplifting, even humorous. . . . A captivating first novel.”
— Philadelphia Inquirer
— Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Intimate... [Hornbacher’s] description of Claire Shiller’s long, slow return to physical desire is delicious in its restraint and directness.”
— New York Times Book Review
“[The] characters populate a landscape . . . that Hornbacher stakes out with great skill . . . Empty space is the defining feature of the book, and Hornbacher lays out her distances with the delicate skill of a cartographer.”
— Austin American-Statesman