Excerpt from City of the Sun by David Levien, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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

City of the Sun

by David Levien

City of the Sun
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2008, 320 pages
    Feb 2009, 432 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Vy Armour

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Rooster and Tad sit at the cluttered dinette table. Heavy feedback

music is in the air and Tad drums along to it.

"So's he gonna be ready?"

Rooster looks at his partner. Tad's recently started smoking meth, and he's on it now. Rooster can tell because Tad has that filthy sheen. It's a dirty drug that opens the pores and seems to suck in airborne dirt and debris. He must've smoked up the last time Rooster was in the room down the hall. Disgusting. "Of course he's gonna be ready, bitch."

"Because it's first thing, like fucking dawn on Thursday, you know, asshole?"

Tad has a wild, risky look in his eyes. Wouldn't be there if not for the meth, Rooster thinks.

"Yeah, I know, douche bag." Rooster flicks a bottle cap at him. Just misses the fat fucker.

"Watch it." Tad moves evasively and too late. "Just so you're sure, dickhead."

"I'm a professional, fuck face." This taunt catches Tad, and he isn't sure where to go next, how to escalate.

"Listen, faggot," he begins, and then there's a click and a knife blade's at his throat. Rooster's pulled the four-inch Spyderco he carries in his back pocket and locked it back. Just like that. Tad feels the pressure of the blade against his Adam's apple, a hard thin line.

"Don't even say another word. Not sorry, not spit. Hear me?" Rooster's face radiates blood.

Tad Ford nods slowly.

Class has just ended at JFK Middle, and kids stream out toward buses and their parents' cars. Carol Gabriel walks opposite the flow toward the low building and wonders why she's done this to herself and not come later in the afternoon. It has been four days. The police have left her house. Every backpack she sees, every jacket, screams Jamie for a moment before dissolving into a different child. Alex Daugherty walks by her and stops.

"Hi, Mrs. G," he says.

She bends down. "Alex. Hi, Alex." The boy seems to know something's going on but not exactly what. "You know that Jamie's been away for a couple days?" she goes on. She can't hold herself back from touching him. Her hands reach out and smooth the boy's sleeves, his hair. Her hands, disconnected from her

mind, need to know that this boy at least is real.


"Do you know if he was . . . upset? Was everything okay at school and stuff?"

"Yeah. Did he run away?" the boy wonders.

"We don't think so." The conversation is already taking a toll on Carol. "He wasn't having any problems that he told you about? He hadn't met anyone? Any secret stuff? Because you should tell me if he did, it's important."

Alex shakes his head and begins digging at the sidewalk with a toe, when a little way off at the curb his mother honks and gets out of her station wagon.

"There's my mom."

Carol straightens up and trades a glance with Kiki Daugherty, who waves. She's told Kiki and Kiki's said all the right things. Carol watches jealously as the other mother collects her child. If there's any accusation in Kiki's stare, any "What kind of a mother lets this happen to her son?," she keeps it to herself so Carol can't see it. Carol hurries toward the school.

Inside Jamie's homeroom, his teacher, Andrea Preston, a twenty-seven-year-old black woman, hands Carol a cup of coffee.

"We have assemblies where we teach the children not to talk to strangers or accept rides. And we had one yesterday to redouble—"

"Yes. Yes." Carol's words echo, disembodied, against the linoleum. "Really, Jamie's old enough to know all that. I just wanted to check again and see if everything was all right here. He was doing fine, wasn't he?" There is panic in her voice now. Perhaps nothing was as she thought.

"He was doing fine. Really well," the teacher says slowly, and gives a pained smile, as if to invest the empty words with hidden meaning. "A few problems with fractions, nothing out of the ordinary. I wish there was something more." Preston's face searches hers.

Published by Doubleday. Copyright © 2008 by Levien Works, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • 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 $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & 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 books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.