I ordered this immediately when I saw that it had won the National Book Award for Fiction but wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. I ended up loving it – it’s creative, sad, and funny all at once. It’s set over the course of one hot summer week in the town of Vacca Vale, Indiana in a low income housing complex, known as The Rabbit Hutch. The town was once a bustling industrial center but now that’s dried up — though the factories may become the homes for new startups, giving Vacca Vale a second chance that not everyone wants. The book introduces us to its many residents. Three teenage boys who have gotten into animal sacrifice. A new mother who is afraid of her son’s eyes. An obituary writer. Plus, the son of a beloved actress (who maybe shouldn’t have been as beloved, after all). The real star of the book is Blandine, a young woman (living with the three teenage boys who she can’t stand). The four of them met in a foster care rehab program (after aging out of the system) and decided to live together on a whim. Blandine has secrets. Why did she drop out of her prestigious high school? I will say no more than that but I couldn’t put this one down. The writing is intoxicating and the way that each character’s story weaves together is incredible.
Author: Tess Gunty