Joshua and Christophe are twins, raised by a blind grandmother and a large extended family in a rural town on Mississippi's Gulf Coast. They've just finished high school and need to find jobs, but in a failing post-Katrina economy, it's not easy. Joshua gets work on the docks, but Christophe's not so lucky. Desperate to alleviate the family's poverty, he starts to sell drugs. He can hide it from his grandmother but not his twin, and the two grow increasingly estranged. Christophe's downward spiral is accelerated first by crack, then by the reappearance of the twins' parents: Cille, who abandoned them, and Sandman, a creepy, predatory addict. Sandman taunts Christophe, eventually provoking a shocking confrontation that will ultimately damn or save both twins. Ward inhabits these characters, and this world -- black Creole, poor, and drug-riddled, yet shored by family and community-- to a rare degree, without a trace of irony or distance.
Starred Review. Impoverished twins living along the Mississippi Gulf Coast struggle to survive after high school in Ward's starkly beautiful debut. Abandoned by their mother and raised by their loving but ailing grandmother, Joshua and Christophe DeLisle know job prospects are slim in rural Bois Sauvage, so they spend their days playing basketball and flirting with the local girls. Eventually, even with no work history, Joshua is hired to work on the docks, but Christophe falls in with the brothers' drug-dealing cousin. Too ashamed to admit that he spends his days in the park selling marijuana, Christophe secretly contributes to the family's expenses with regular deposits to his grandmother's purse. But when Christophe decides to start selling more dangerous drugs, tensions between the twins grow, and the arrival of their long-absent drug addict father sparks a violent confrontation. A fresh new voice in American literature, Ward unflinchingly describes a world full of despair but not devoid of hope. (Nov.)
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October 30, 2008
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