US writer Andrew Porter's debut novel is a moving portrait of an intensely dysfunctional family.
Set in present day Houston, Texas, it concerns divorced couple Elson and Cadence. He was once one of the city's outstanding architects, but now is falling into the abyss of alcoholism. Meanwhile, his former wife is constantly pained with regret at giving up a promising career to raise her two children.
Their eldest son, Richard, is a gifted poet who is squandering his talents for a menial job in a coffee shop. Daughter Chloe suddenly returns home from her East Coast college after being suspended for an on-campus incident.
As we slowly learn of what happened to Chloe, the quartet of characters see their lives disintegrate further.
Throughout this tale, Porter manages to accurately convey both the fragility and strength of the family unit. While the characters invariably cause each other intense anguish, they are unwittingly tied by inseparable bonds.
Although occasionally the constant sense of unease becomes somewhat repetitive, overall this is an absorbing and suspenseful family drama.