Excerpt from Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Heaven, My Home

A Highway 59 Mystery

by Attica Locke

Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke X
Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2019, 304 pages
    Aug 2020, 304 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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Like a tree planted by the water,
I shall not be moved.

—when Jessie Mae Hemphill sang it

Marion County

Texas, 2016

DANA WOULD have his tail if he didn't make it back across the lake by sundown. She'd said as much when she put him out on the steps of their trailer—which she did the second Rory Pitkin rolled up on his Indian Scout with the engine off, the toes of his motorcycle boots dragging in the dirt. She'd given Levi the key to their granddaddy's boathouse and a few dollars from the bottom of her purse and told him he had to be home before Ma and Gil got back or she'd burn all his Pokémon cards and make him watch. Lord, but his sister could be a bitch, he thought, enjoying the knifelike feel of the word so much he said it out loud, a secret between him and the cypress trees. The rust-red light pouring through the Spanish moss told him he'd never make it home by dark, which meant he'd broken two of his mama's rules: missing curfew and going boating alone on the lake. Levi was not allowed to take his pappy's old twelve-foot V-bottomed skiff into the open waters of Caddo Lake, which was so vast that, if you had the time, inclination, and a day's worth of smoked oysters and clean water, you could ride it all the way into Louisiana. Gil said it wasn't nothing like it nowhere else in the country, the only lake to cross two counties and a state line. But Gil said a lot of things that weren't true—that he loved Ma, for one. He sure as shit didn't act like it. Levi's real daddy, he used to come up on her frying bologna on the stove and kiss her neck, make her titter and smile, kiss him back. But anytime Gil walked in a room, Ma was just as likely to cuss him as go stone still with terror, as if she could camouflage herself against the brown corduroy couch, where Gil had left a dozen cigarette burns since he'd moved in. Levi didn't trust Gil any more than he would a smile on a gator. But the water, Levi thought, now that he was traveling it on his own, well, ol' Gil might have been right about that. Caddo Lake was a monster, a body of water that could swallow a boy like him whole. In most places it resembled a weed-choked swamp more than it did a proper lake, a cypress forest that had flooded and been abandoned eons ago, and Levi could admit he was scared out here alone. Through the open sound south of Goat Island, it was a straight shot to Hopetown, the small community of trailers and shacks on the northeastern shore where Levi lived with his mother and sister and Gil. He blew away a lick of blond hair that had slipped over his eyes and gunned the boat's motor. He yanked the tiller left, chancing a shortcut.

In just the past few minutes, the light had melted from the color of plum brandy to the bluish gray of coming nightfall, and a December breeze curled up under the thin fabric of his windbreaker, a blue and white KARNACK HIGH SCHOOL INDIANS jacket he stole from his sister's half of the closet. He got a sudden image of her and Rory Pitkin rolling around naked in the room he and Dana shared and felt a quiver go through his body that embarrassed him. He wasn't stupid. He knew what they were doing. Fucking, CT called it.

This was his fault, CT's, he decided. Levi had been playing football on CT's Xbox and lost track of time. He wanted to get a fantasy team in place because Ma had said there might be an Xbox under the tree this year if Gil came through on this deal he was running out of Jefferson. But in all the time Gil had been around, almost none of his plans ever amounted to anything that made Levi's life easier. They still didn't have milk in the fridge half the time.

Put out of the trailer for the afternoon, Levi had motored the small boat seven miles along the lake's coast to CT's family's cabin, way on the other side of the lake in Harrison County, had lost himself playing the video game, enjoying something he knew, deep down, he'd never have. He'd been so jealous of his friend that he'd stolen one of the game's controllers on the way out, slipping it into the pocket of his windbreaker. He hated when he did stuff like that, but neither could he stop himself. Something just came over him sometimes. It's like his brain just went black with want—for the stuff other kids had, be it an Xbox or a daddy living at home—so he lashed out blindly. He felt the corner of the controller pressing through the nylon jacket, poking him in his bony side. Out here on the water with only God as a witness, he felt hot with shame.

Excerpted from Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke. Copyright © 2019 by Attica Locke. Excerpted by permission of Mulholland. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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