From the author of the best-selling Snow Falling on Cedars, a dazzling new novel about youth and idealism, adulthood and its compromises, and two powerfully different visions of what it means to live a good life.
John William Barry has inherited the pedigreeand wealthof two of Seattles elite families; Neil Countryman is blue-collar Irish. Nevertheless, when the two boys meet in 1972 at age sixteen, theyre brought together by what they have in common: a fierce intensity and a love of the outdoors that takes them, together and often, into Washingtons remote backcountry, where they must rely on their witsand each otherto survive.
Soon after graduating from college, Neil sets out on a path that will lead him toward a life as a devoted schoolteacher and family man. But John William makes a radically different choice, dropping out of college and moving deep into the woods, convinced that it is the only way to live without hypocrisy. When John William enlists Neil to help him disappear completely, Neil finds himself drawn into a web of secrets and often agonizing responsibility, deceit, and tragedyone that will finally break open with a wholly unexpected, life-altering revelation.
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"Once the contrasts between the two are set up, the novel has nowhere to go, ultimately floundering in summary and explanation." - Publishers Weekly.
"Starred Review. When a novelist scores as popular a breakthrough as Guterson did with Snow Falling on Cedars, a long shadow is cast over subsequent efforts. Here, he succeeds in out-distancing that shadow." - Kirkus Reviews.
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David Guterson was born in Seattle in 1956. His father, Murray Guterson,
is a distinguished criminal defense lawyer: "One of the things I
heard [from him] early on was to find something you love to do--before you
think about money or anything else. The other thing was to do something
that you feel has a positive impact on the world."
Guterson received his M.A. from the University of Washington, where he studied under the writer Charles Johnson. It was there that he developed his ideas about the moral function of literature: "Fiction writers shouldn't dictate to people what their morality should be," he said in a recent interview. "Yet not enough writers are presenting moral questions for reflection, which I think...
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