Oh, Willy Vlautin, you're breaking my heart with this book! Horace has big dreams of becoming a boxing champion, but in order to achieve that, he must leave the safety and security of the Reese Ranch. The Reeses treated him like a son for years after Horace's mother discards him. But Horace has a long row to hoe; between his bouts of confidence, there lies deep despondency and an aching loneliness. Vlautin is able to flesh out these characters and the pain they guard inside, and he produces this heartrending story that feels real and urgent. A coming-of-age story that's tangled up with sorrow, family, loyalty, and love, Don't Skip Out on Me is the scraped-raw snapshot of a young life on the cusp of the unknown. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Vlautin writes real. Real people living their lives. You feel that you know them. You care about them. Horace wants to be someone and sets out to become a boxer. A champion. You root for him. Don't Skip Out on Me made me so happy throughout yet broke my heart into pieces. A wonderful read! Recommended By Adrienne C., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
From Willy Vlautin, award-winning author of Lean on Pete and The Motel Life, comes a powerful exploration of identity and loneliness pulled from deep within America's soul.
Horace Hopper has spent most of his life on a Nevada sheep ranch, but dreams of something bigger. Mr. and Mrs. Reese, the aging ranchers, took him in and treated him like a son, intending to leave the ranch in his hands. But Horace, ashamed not only of his half-Paiute, half-Irish heritage, but also of the fact his parents did not want him, feels as if he doesn’t belong on the ranch, or anywhere. Knowing he needs to make a name for himself, he decides to leave the only loving home he’s known to prove his worth as a championship boxer.
Mr. Reese is holding on to a way of life that is no longer sustainable. He’s a 72-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.
To become a champion Horace must change not just the way he eats, trains, and thinks, but who he is. Reinventing himself as Hector Hildago, a scrappy Mexican boxer, he heads to Tucson and begins training and entering fights. His journey brings him to boxing rings across the Southwest and Mexico and finally, to the streets of Las Vegas, where Horace learns he can’t change who he is or outrun his destiny.
A beautiful, wrenching portrait of a downtrodden man, Don’t Skip Out on Me narrates the struggle to find one's place in a vast and lonely world with profound tenderness, and will make you consider those around you — and yourself — differently.
“Magnificent....Willy Vlautin is now one of America’s great writers.” Roddy Doyle
“No one anywhere writes as beautifully about people whose stories stay close to the dirt. Willy Vlautin is a secular — and thus real and profoundly useful — saint.” Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan
“I absolutely loved Don’t Skip Out on Me, just as I have loved all of Vlautin’s previous novels. Vlautin’s gritty, scrappy world bursts with a tenderness that will hook you in from the first line to the last. This is a writer who should never be ignored.” Jessica Anya Blau, author of The Trouble with Lexie and Drinking Closer to Home
“[T]here’s a distinct sense of foreboding in the air as Vlautin slowly lets this poignant tale unwind to its inevitable, heartbreaking conclusion. A powerful, haunting portrayal of lives rendered in unflinching, understated prose.” Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Willy Vlautin is the author of The Free, Lean on Pete, Northline, The Motel Life, and Don't Skip Out on Me. He is the singer and songwriter of the band Richmond Fontaine and a member of the band The Delines. He lives outside Portland, Oregon.
Willy Vlautin on PowellsBooks.Blog
On March 19, 1983, Colin Jones fought Milton McCrory for the WBC Welterweight championship in Reno, Nevada, where I grew up. I was 15 and kept a picture of Colin Jones by my bed. Next to him was an old newspaper clipping of John Steinbeck, one of Springsteen, and one of the cow-punk band Rank and File. Saints on my walls...