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The author of the “graceful and compassionate” (People) New York Times bestseller Carry the One and “one of the best storytellers we have” (Amy Bloom, author of White Houses) presents a vividly affecting novel exploring what happens when one chance encounter forces four ordinary people to discover who they really are.
It’s the fall of 2016. Cate, a set designer in her early forties, lives and works in Chicago’s theater community. She knows it’s time to get past her prolonged adolescence and stop taking handouts from her parents. She has a firm plan to get solvent and settled in a serious relationship. She has tentatively started something new even as she’s haunted by an old, going-nowhere affair. Her ex-husband, recently booted from his most recent marriage, is currently camped out in Cate’s spare bedroom, in thrall to online conspiracy theories, and she’s not sure how to help him. Her best friend Neale, a yoga instructor, lives nearby with her son and is Cate’s model for what serious adulthood looks like.
Only a few blocks away, but in a parallel universe we find Nathan and Irene—casual sociopaths, drug addicts, and small-time criminals. Their world and Cate’s intersect the day she comes into Neale’s kitchen to find these strangers assaulting her friend. Forced to take fast, spontaneous action, Cate does something she’s never even considered. She now also knows the violence she is capable of, isolating her from everyone else in her life, and overnight, their world has changed. Together, they all grapple with their altered relationships and identities against the backdrop of the new Trump presidency and a country waking to a different understanding of itself.
“With sharply drawn characters, an ensnaring plot, and a look back at closeted gay lives, Anshaw, acutely attuned to the shifting weather of emotions and relationships, insightfully dramatizes the insistence of desire over convention and expediency and the endless reverberations of violence” (Booklist, starred review).