Excerpt from North River by Pete Hamill, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

North River

A Novel

by Pete Hamill

North River by Pete Hamill X
North River by Pete Hamill
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2007, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2008, 368 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


The vestibule door was unlocked. It was always unlocked, so that in bad weather the boy from Reilly's candy store could drop off the newspapers. In the left corner, he glimpsed the Times, the News, the Mirror. Maybe the footprints belonged to the newspaper boy. Maybe.

Then, pushing the door open a few inches, he saw the baby stroller. It was worn and ratty with age, strands of its wicker hood sprung and loose. Like something bought at a secondhand shop. Under a pile of covers, his head wrapped in a green scarf and a yellow wool hat, was a child.

He knew this boy with the wide, wary brown eyes. He had not seen him since the boy was six days old, another unformed infant huddled in the nursery of New York Hospital. But he had his mother's eyes, and her blond hair. That morning Grace had let him hold the boy, saying only that the boy's father, Rafael Santos of Cuernavaca, Mexico, was out running errands. She was not even seventeen that morning, his and Molly's only child. Now a child with a child. Smart, gifted, spoiled, but a child. Like ten thousand other young mothers in New York. When Delaney returned to the hospital, late the next morning, she and the baby were gone. Almost three years now. The postcards came for a while. From Key West. From Cuba. Later Grace wrote a longer letter from Mexico, telling Delaney and Molly that all three Santoses had boarded a ship to Veracruz, with stops along the way. I tried calling before we left, she wrote. Nobody was home. Molly read the letter fi rst, then slapped it against Delaney's chest. "Spoiled rotten," she said. "By you." There were a few more letters, cryptic or guarded, as if Grace was afraid of having them read by anyone else. And then the letters stopped. It was like an erasure on a charcoal drawing. Grace was there in his life, and in Molly's, but not there. He never did meet the goddamned husband.

He unlocked the inner vestibule door and wheeled the silent boy into the hall, closing doors firmly behind him. His own bedroom was to the left on the street side, the former parlor converted long ago by some forgotten inhabitant, with the former bedroom now full of chairs and couches, looking out on the back garden. Sliding oak doors separated the rooms, but the parquet fl oors stretched from front windows to rear like a dense oaken plain. He gently freed the boy from the blankets, thinking: Goddamned swaddling clothes. The boy had a lighter version of his mother's dark blond hair, and he gazed up at Delaney in silence. And then Delaney saw the letter on the boy's lap. Addressed DADDY. Sealed. He dropped it on the bed. Thinking: I'll read this later, but not in front of the boy. I don't want him to see my rage. She will explain herself, of course, but I can't stop now. He slipped off his heavy clothes and felt a chilly dampness penetrating the room. Thinking: Build a fire. He lifted the child, breathing hard on the boy's cold cheeks. Then the boy moved his arms. His face looked as if he had a toothache.

"Mamá," he said, waving a freed hand toward the door. With an accent on the second syllable. "Mamá?"

"We'll find her, boy. Don't worry."

"Mamá?"

The boy was wearing a pale blue snowsuit with a dark blue sweater underneath, and Delaney removed it and then lifted him and placed him standing beside the bed, his feet planted on the threadbare Persian rug. Carlos. His name is Carlos. A good weight. Maybe twentynine, thirty pounds. A healthy weight. Clear skin too. Small white teeth. He smelled of milk. The boy stood there, a hand on the mattress, gazing around at the strange high- ceilinged room, with its electric lights rising from the channels of old gas lamps, the dark glazed paintings on the walls, the dresser that held Delaney's clothes. The boy was looking at the two framed photographs on top of the dresser. Delaney's wife, Molly, when she was twenty-five. Grace, when she was sixteen, about the time she met Rafael Santos somewhere out in the city. Delaney thought: The boy has intelligent eyes. Yes. His mother's eyes.

Copyright © 2007 by Pete Hamill

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman
    The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman
    by Julietta Henderson
    The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman is the comedic debut novel of writer Julietta Henderson. It ...
  • Book Jacket: In Search of a Kingdom
    In Search of a Kingdom
    by Laurence Bergreen
    The Age of Exploration in the early modern period, lasting roughly from the 15th through 16th ...
  • Book Jacket: Under a White Sky
    Under a White Sky
    by Elizabeth Kolbert
    You can never go back home...so the saying goes. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer ...
  • Book Jacket: The Barbizon
    The Barbizon
    by Paulina Bren
    Esteemed historian and Vassar professor Paulina Bren brings the legendary Barbizon Hotel to life on ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Of Women and Salt
by Gabriela Garcia
A kaleidoscopic portrait of generations of women from a 19th-century Cuban cigar factory to the present day.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Crossing the River
    by Carol Smith

    A powerful exploration of grief that combines memoir, reportage, and lessons in how to heal.

  • Book Jacket

    Ariadne
    by Jennifer Saint

    A mesmerizing debut novel about Ariadne, Princess of Crete for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe.

Who Said...

I have lost all sense of home, having moved about so much. It means to me now only that place where the books are ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A S I T closet

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.