Synopses & Reviews
“Funny, bewitching, observant.”—The Oregonian
“Hits all the frets of a powerful story: sharp-witted dialogue, vivid characters, insight into medical challenges and prose that snaps like well-placed plucks of guitar strings. . . . I hold up my lighter and turn it full-flame for [Garth] Stein’s latest work. Encore!”—The Seattle Times
“Stein handles the many narrative elements deftly.”—Seattle Weekly
“An engrossing family drama.”—Publishers Weekly
Evan had a hit single, but that was ten years ago. Thirty-one now, he’s drifting, playing in a local band and teaching middle-aged men to coax music from an electric guitar.
Beset at a young age with a life-threatening form of epilepsy, he’s kept his condition a secret. But his deepest secret is that he got his high school sweetheart pregnant. Then her conservative parents whisked her out of Seattle and out of Evan’s life.
Now, fourteen years later, he experiences unplanned parenthood when he undertakes to raise the resentful teenage son he’s never known.
Off beat and disarming, How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets portrays a contemporary American family with unfailing honesty.
"Stein (Raven Stole the Moon) builds an engrossing family drama around a Seattle rock musician. Evan's the odd man out in the Wallace family: his dad's a renowned heart surgeon, his mom's the dutiful doctor's wife and his brother's a successful lawyer. His entire life, they've treated Evan like damaged goods, and in some ways he is. Hit by a car as a child, Evan now has frequent and sometimes severe epileptic seizures. And although he once had a top-10 hit, these days Evan gets by working as a guitar shop salesman. Stein ups the emotional ante of the Wallace world by dropping a 14-year-old son, Dean, in Evan's lap when the boy's mother, Evan's high school flame, is killed in an auto accident. Long denied a chance to be involved in Dean's raising, Evan is excited to be a dad, but it isn't easy there's that exchange when Dean smacks Evan and Evan calls him a 'rude little shit,' for example. It's as if Stein has taken his hero, set a series of nasty psychological and medical roadblocks in his path, and then stepped back to see if Evan can find his way toward health and happiness. Following the emotionally stunted Evan along his arduous journey isn't always a pleasant experience, but the path is littered with life lessons that Stein weaves into the narrative with honesty and compassion." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Evan's emotional journey...hits all the frets of a powerful story: sharp-witted dialogue, vivid characters, insight into medical challenges and prose that snaps like well-placed plucks of guitar strings." Seattle Times
"A funny, bewitching, observant book about families." The Oregonian
"Stein struggles mightily to capture the commitment issues that [Nick] Hornby incorporates so naturally. Despite many awkward passages, he does manage to hit a few grace notes when describing the music scene in Seattle and Evan's complicated attitude toward his epilepsy." Booklist
"An unconvincing second outing (after Raven Stole the Moon, 1998)." Kirkus Reviews
"What a wonderful, beautiful book; I will never forget it!" Ben Sherwood, author of The Man Who ate the 747
"Garth Stein brings a distinctly wise and modern voice to a timeless tale of fathers and sons and the choices we all face....[T]he story's resolution resonates with the lingering satisfaction of all great literature." Mark Lindquist, author of Never Mind Nirvana
"Whether laughing or wiping tears from our cheeks, page after page, all I can say is: What a wonderful, beautiful book; I will never forget it!" Ben Sherwood, author of The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud
Evan had a hit single. But that was 10 years ago. Thirty-one now, he's drifting, playing in a local band and teaching middle-aged men to coax music from an electric guitar.
Beset at a young age with a life-threatening form of epilepsy, he's kept his condition a secret, even from his band mates. Only his family knows, and they don't know why he had the accident that caused it. Nor has he revealed his deepest secret: at seventeen, Evan got his high-school sweetheart pregnant. Then her conservative parents whisked her out of Seattle and out of Evan's life.
Now, 14 years later, he experiences unplanned parenthood when he undertakes to raise the resentful teenage son he's never known. Evan has a second chance at fatherhood but possesses none of the qualities of a traditional father. He has to learn, just as Dean, his son, has to learn to love him. Neither is easy.
Offbeat and disarming, How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets portrays a contemporary American family with unfailing honesty. Maybe being a father means being there for your child no matter how belatedly you may arrive.
About the Author
Garth Stein, a former documentary film maker, was co-producer of the Academy Award-winning short film The Lunch Date, and director of When Your Head's Not a Head, It's a Nut. How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets is his second novel; his first, Raven Stole the Moon, was published by Pocket Books. He lives in Seattle with his wife and children.