A wrenching and layered debut novel about a gay teen’s coming-of-age in the aftermath of his father’s suicide
Middle school hasn’t been going well for Colin. His teenage sister teases him mercilessly, his autistic brother lashes out at him, and he has a crush on his best friend, Andy. But after the tragic night when his father commits suicide, none of that matters.
Diane, Colin’s mother, seeks solace in therapy. Colin is awash in guilt, and casts about for someone to confide in: first his estranged grandfather, then a predatory science teacher. But nothing helps as much as the strange writing his father kept in a series of notebooks locked in his study. Colin looks for answers there―in fragments about disaster scenarios, the violence of snow, mustangs running wild in the west―but instead finds the writing infecting his worldview.
Diane, meanwhile, has a miserable fling with a coworker, and leans more heavily on Colin for support as things go from bad to worse. But spring is unfolding, and a road trip to Los Angeles gives them a tantalizing glimpse of what the future might hold.
In Some Hell, a debut novel of devastating intensity and aching, pointillistic detail, Patrick Nathan shows how unspeakable tragedy shapes a life and how imagination saves us from ourselves.
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“The full-heartedness in Colin’s capacity for hope and love even amidst his crumbling surroundings is what makes all of the weight of this book bearable. That sliver of hope is what allows us to see this story through to the end, with the idea that maybe even those in the worst of circumstances one can find something like peace.”