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The Testing of Luther Albright: A Novelby MacKenzie Bezos
Synopses & Reviews
Luther Albright is a devoted father and a designer of dams, a self-controlled man who believes he can engineer happiness for his family by sheltering them from his own emotions.
But when an earthquake shakes his Sacramento home, the world Luther has constructed with such care begins to tilt: his son's behavior becomes increasingly bizarre and threatening, his loving wife seems to grow distant, the house he built with his own hands shows its first signs of decay, and a dam of his design comes under investigation for structural flaws exposed by the tremors. Nightmarish connections begin to whisper at Luther from the most innocent of places as debut novelist MacKenzie Bezos tightens her net of psychological suspense around the reader with bravura skill. This is a harrowing portrait of an ordinary man who finds himself tested and strives not to be found wanting.
"Luther Albright has it all: a top civil engineering position with the Sacramento department of water services; a lovely home he designed and built himself; a beautiful, loving wife; and a teenage son who shares his passion for household construction and repair. But when an earthquake rattles his house's foundation, faults in Luther's design expose deeper cracks in the life he's built with his family. Bezos's impressive, quietly powerful debut, narrated 20 years later by a reflective and regretful Luther, charts a year in stages, revolving around a series of 'tests' performed on Luther by his son, Elliot. Ranging from shaving his head to reckless horseplay on the roof, Elliot's tests never stray far beyond the limits of typical teenage rebellion. But Luther, crippled by his inability to communicate with his maturing son, chooses inaction and evasion in the face of them. Bezos scrutinizes her protagonist's every thought, fear and action as he unwittingly distances himself from his beloved wife and son, uncovering a heartbreaking family dissolution steeped not in melodrama but in the irrevocable damage done when one member closes himself off from the rest. Bezos (wife of Amazon.com founder Jeff) captures the extraordinary in the ordinary, revealing a subtle imagination and a startling talent for naturalism. Agent, Amanda Urban." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A low-key but affecting portrait of a family....There are no melodramatic excesses here, just the painful realization that a love that evades past injuries and present affronts isn't quite enough. A self-assured, distinguished debut." Kirkus Reviews
"A nuanced, emotionally charged first novel." Booklist
"A sophisticated novel that breaks and swells the heart." Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison
"Within the emotional minutiae, Bezos drops in some breathtakingly truthful observations. Recommended." Library Journal
"In her chilling first novel Bezos puts her hero under the microscope....A masterful debut." Jane Hamilton, the prise-winning author of The Book of Ruth and Disobedience
When an earthquake shakes Luther Albright's Sacramento home, it reveals fault lines and cracks not only in the house he personally designed but in the facade of his family as well.
About the Author
MacKenzie Bezos grew up in northern California and studied creative writing at Princeton University. She lives in Seattle. This is her first novel.
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