Cover image for Before familiar woods : a novel
Title:
Before familiar woods : a novel
ISBN:
9781643852959
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
292 pages ; 25 cm.
Geographic Term:
Summary:
On the outskirts of a town too tired for its own happenings, the boys were found dead inside a tent. Three years later, their fathers have disappeared, too. Ruth Fenn's son was the boy they blamed. For three years, Ruth has accepted her lot as pariah, focusing on her ailing mother and the children left in her care by the struggling single parents of North Falls, Vermont. But now the additional loss of her husband is too much to bear, and she has no choice but to overcome the darkness or be consumed by it. But as she edges closer to the truth, she begins to uncover some secrets that are better left buried. That's when she meets Milk Raymond, a war vet who comes home to find his nine-year-old son abandoned by his mother. Unable to find work, with no idea how to be a father, Milk turns to Ruth for help. But as the mystery of Ruth's missing husband deepens, the fragile stability Milk has created for Daniel is shattered by the ill-fated return of Daniel's mother, who will stop at nothing to get her boy back. As these unsettled and interconnected lives hurtle towards a devastating conclusion, both Ruth and Milk are about to learn that their dying Vermont town has more secrets than they ever thought possible - and there are those who will do anything to protect them. --
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Summary

Summary

On the outskirts of a town too tired for its own happenings, the boys were found dead inside a tent.

Three years later, their fathers have disappeared, too.

Ruth Fenn's son was the boy they blamed. For three years, Ruth has accepted her lot as pariah, focusing on her ailing mother and the children left in her care by the struggling single parents of North Falls, Vermont. But now the additional loss of her husband is too much to bear, and she has no choice but to overcome the darkness or be consumed by it. But as she edges closer to the truth, she begins to uncover some secrets that are better left buried.

That's when she meets Milk Raymond, a war vet who comes home to find his nine-year-old son abandoned by his mother. Unable to find work, with no idea how to be a father, Milk turns to Ruth for help. But as the mystery of Ruth's missing husband deepens, the fragile stability Milk has created for Daniel is shattered by the ill-fated return of Daniel's mother, who will stop at nothing to get her boy back.

As these unsettled and interconnected lives hurtle towards a devastating conclusion, both Ruth and Milk are about to learn that their dying Vermont town has more secrets than they ever thought possible--and there are those who will do anything to protect them.


Author Notes

Ian Pisarcik was born and raised in rural New England. He currently lives in Washington State with his wife and Labrador retriever. He spends the majority of his time in a dimly lit room making up stories about ornery men and heartbroken women and not-quite-empty woods. His stories and poems have appeared in the Roanoke Review, Lullwater Review, Maine Review , and the Flyway Journal of Writing and Environment .


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Pisarcik's outstanding debut begins in the aftermath of a tragedy. Three years after teenagers Mathew Fenn and William Downing died in a burst of violence triggered by heroin and fentanyl, Matthew's mother, Ruth, remains shunned by the townsfolk of North Falls, Vt. Though everyone in the dying town at least ignores the flood of illegal drugs, Ruth is slowly coming to terms with the fact that she does deserve personal blame; she should have done more to protect her son. Meanwhile, she meets Milk Raymond, an alienated Afghan War vet who's trying to figure out how to be a father to his son, Daniel, who has been traumatized by his mother's addiction. Then Ruth's husband vanishes, along with William's father. And so Ruth is forced into an awkward, tentative, altogether convincing investigation. Familiar landscapes become quietly ominous as the characters set about doing what they have to do. The action builds toward a devastating yet mildly hopeful conclusion. Pisarcik is a writer to watch. Agent: Alec Shane, Writers House. (Mar.)


Booklist Review

Don't be fooled by the thriller trappings that surround this noirish literary novel about the sad lives of a group of characters trying to hang on in a callous world. Yes, there's a gripping, thriller-style opening in which two boys walking in the woods on the edge of a tiny town in Vermont are found murdered, and the mystery expands when the boys' fathers simultaneously disappear. But suddenly the focus shifts to the lives left behind: the wife of one of the disappeared men, who tends her senile mother; a boy abandoned by his mother; a returning war vet who attempts to step up as a father. The clear, rhythmic style is Hemingway-haunted (He ""went to the closet and put on his boots and his coat and his Boston Red Sox cap""). There's also some bitter, country noir-style humor (""Jesus lives"" is spray-painted on a dumpster. ""Just not here."") and some fine laconic dialogue (""I couldn't sweet-talk a bee into a flower shop""). Along the way, we learn about pottery wheels, buzz saws, and how to change a truck tire. These and other sequences are beautifully done and will certainly strike a chord with readers who appreciate the similar styles of Daniel Woodrell and David Joy.--Don Crinklaw Copyright 2020 Booklist