Synopses & Reviews
A gripping novel full of suspense and pathos that Dennis Lehane calls an "electrifying, tomahawk missile of a thriller."
Patrick Cusimano’s life can’t get much worse. His father is in jail, he works the midnight shift at a grubby convenience store, and his brother’s girlfriend, Caro, has pushed their friendship to an uncomfortable new level. On top of all that, he can’t shake the attentions of Layla Elshere, a goth teenager who befriends Patrick for reasons he doesn’t understand, and doesn’t fully trust. The temptations these two women offer are pushing Patrick to his breaking point.
Meanwhile, Layla’s little sister, Verna, is suffering through her first year of high school. She’s become a prime target for her cruel classmates, and not just because of her strange name and her fundamentalist parents. Layla’s bad-girl rep casts a shadow too heavy for Verna to bear alone, so she falls in with her sister’s tribe of outcasts. But their world is far darker than she ever imagined…
Unless Patrick, Layla, Caro, and Verna can forge their own twisted paths to peace — with themselves, with each other — then they’re stuck on a dangerous collision course where the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Kelly Braffet has written a novel of unnerving power — darkly compelling, compulsively addictive, and shockingly honest.
"A sharp portrait of five people damaged by their childhood elevates Braffet's captivating, realistically creepy third novel, set in Ratchetsburg, Pa. Patrick Cusimano blames his brother, Mike, for the fact that their father, John, was sent to prison for the hit-and-run death of a child while in an alcoholic haze. Mike believes that if Patrick hadn't called the police, their father would never have been arrested, despite the damaged, bloody car. The residents of Ratchetsburg also fault the brothers for waiting 19 hours before calling the police. Mike's girlfriend, Caro, who fled from her bipolar mother when she was 16, lives with the brothers, but is increasingly attracted to Patrick. Meanwhile, sisters Layla and Verna Elshere are outcasts at their high school, ostracized because their father, Jeff, 'a home church leader,' waged a high-profile campaign against sex education. Layla, who has retreated into the goth world, pulls Verna with her, along with Patrick, into an even darker, violent place. Braffet (Last Seen Leaving) uses graceful prose, astute dialogue, and vivid characters to carry the plot to an unexpected and believable finale. Agent: Julie Barer, Barer Literary." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"This summer's must-read....Braffet expertly captures the suffocating confines of small-town life and the desperation of its outliers, with prose that simmers and thrums....The tension Braffet generates becomes nearly unbearable, and the conclusion, when it comes, feels satisfying and thoroughly earned." Laura Miller, Salon
"There’s storytelling skill to burn here. Ms. Braffet has empathy for her working-class characters and brings neglected places to convincing life." New York Times
"Excruciatingly rendered characters and locomotive plotting....The plot is on a collision course that is going to end ugly — but also, in Braffet's hands, beautifully....Perceptive, nervy, and with broad cross-genre appeal." Booklist
About the Author
Kelly Braffet is the author of Josie and Jack and Last Seen Leaving. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University, where she received her MFA. Kelly lives in upstate New York with her husband, the writer Owen King.