In his award-winning bestseller The World of Normal Boys, K.M. Soehnlein introduced readers to the richly compelling voice of teenager Robin MacKenzie. In Robin and Ruby, he revisits Robin and his younger sister, masterfully depicting the turbulence of the mid-1980s--and that fleeting time between youth and adulthood, when everything we will become can be shaped by one unforgettable weekend. At twenty-years-old, Robin MacKenzie is waiting for his life to start. Waiting until his summer working at a Philly restaurant is over and he's back with his boyfriend Peter. . . until the spring semester when he'll travel to London for an acting program. . . until the moment when the confidence he fakes starts to feel real. Then, one hot June weekend, Robin gets dumped by his boyfriend and quickly hits the road with his best friend George to find his teenaged sister, Ruby, who's vanished from a party at the Jersey Shore. For years, his friendship with George has been the most solid thing in Robin's life. But lately there are glimpses of another George, someone Robin barely knows and can no longer take for granted. Ruby is on an adventure of her own, dressing in black, declaring herself an atheist, pulling away from the boyfriend she doesn't love--not the way she loves the bands whose fractured songs are the soundtrack to her life. Then a chance encounter puts Ruby in pursuit of a seductive but troubled boy who might be the key to her happiness, or a disaster waiting to happen. As their paths converge, Robin and Ruby confront the sadness of their shared past and rebuild the bonds that still run deep. In prose that is lyrical, compulsively readable, and exquisitely honest, K.M. Soehnlein brilliantly captures a family redefining itself and explores those moments common to us all--when freedom bumps up against responsibility, when sex blurs the line between friendship and love, and when what you stand for becomes more important than who you were raised to be.
At twenty-years-old, Robin MacKenzie is waiting for his life to start. Waiting until his summer working at a Philly restaurant is over and he's back with his boyfriend Peter. . .until the spring semester when he'll travel to London for an acting program. . .until the moment when the confidence he fakes starts to feel real."Engaging. . .capturing intimately the mood of the period." -Publishers WeeklyThen, one hot June weekend, Robin gets dumped by his boyfriend and quickly hits the road with his best friend George to find his teenaged sister, Ruby, who's vanished from a party at the Jersey Shore. "A fresh, eloquent perspective to the oft-writ story of sexual and romantic coming of age." -Book MarksBut Ruby is on an adventure of her own, dressing in black, declaring herself an atheist, pulling away from the boyfriend she doesn't love--not the way she loves the bands whose fractured songs are the soundtrack to her life. Then a chance encounter puts Ruby in pursuit of a seductive but troubled boy who might be the key to her happiness, or a disaster waiting to happen. Now as their paths converge, Ruby and Robin will confront the sadness of their shared past and rebuild the bonds that still run deep. . ."Lush. . .bittersweet. . .two characters who gleefully leap off the page." -Bay Area Reporter
Winner of the Lambda Literary Award"This first novel is so eloquent because it is hellbent on collaring the reader and telling him or her the whole passionate story." --Edmund White, author of Our Young Man"This is a rich and unflinching book." --The New York Times Book Review"Extraordinary...an exhilarating experience...that Soehnlein has produced as his first novel a work of such maturity and excellence is little short of astounding." --Fenton Johnson, author of Scissors, Paper, RockThe time is the late 1970s--an age of gas shortages, head shops, and Saturday Night Fever. The place, suburban New Jersey. At a time when the teenagers around him are coming of age, Robin MacKenzie is coming undone. While "normal boys" are into cars, sports, and bullying their classmates, Robin enjoys day trips to New York City with his elegant mother, spinning fantastic tales for her amusement in an intimate ritual he has come to love. He dutifully plays the role of the good son for his meat-and-potatoes father, even as his own mind is a jumble of sexual confusion and painful self-doubt. But everything changes in one, horrifying instant when a tragic accident wakes his family from their middle-American dream and plunges them into a spiral of slow destruction. As his family falls apart day by day, Robin finds himself pulling away from the unquestioned, unexamined life that has been carefully laid out for him. Small acts of rebellion lead to larger questions of what it means to stand on his own. Falling into a fevered triangle with two other outcasts, Todd Spicer and Scott Schatz, Robin embarks on an explosive odyssey of sexual self-discovery that will take him beyond the spring-green lawns of suburbia, beyond the fraying fabric barely holding together his quickly unraveling family, and into a complex future, beyond the world of normal boys. "Karl Soehnlein's stunning first novel reads like a cross between the film American Beauty and Edmund White's A Boy's Own Story." --The Advocate"The World of Normal Boys is a work of authenticity, as relevant to those who lived a similar coming-of-age experience many years ago as it will be to those who are living that experience now." --Bay Area Reporter"An amusingly detailed and largely accurate picture of life in the Jersey 'burbs." --Publishers Weekly"Full of tension and suspense, Soehnlein's well-paced debut novel is a fresh look at one boy's sexual awakening in the 1970s and his journey to find a place where he can fit it." --Booklist
Robin is growing up while a horrible accident is tearing his family apart.
Jamie discovers secrets after his fathers death that send him on a quest for the truth.
Charming underachiever Jamie Garner is living a sexy slacker's life in San Francisco during the dot-com boom--avoiding his stalled career as a radio producer, barely holding on to his relationship, but surrounded by fun-loving friends. And then Jamie gets the call he's always dreaded: Teddy, the father who never accepted him, has died. It's time for the prodigal son to come home to the subdivisions and strip malls of suburban New Jersey to face the emotionally barren family he left behind years ago. Caught between the guilt he wants to shake and the grief he can't express, Jamie takes solace in a box of memorabilia he finds in the attic, marked "1960," the year his father spent in San Francisco but kept secret. Jamie is especially drawn to a moody, enigmatic photo of the stunning Dean Foster, his dad's closest friend, who headed west then mysteriously disappeared. Determined to unlock the mystery of his father, Jamie seeks out the artists and poets, the free spirits and wild men mentioned in Teddy's letters to Dean. It's a journey that takes him deep into the subcultures of San Francisco, from the bohemian heyday of the Beat Generation through the Internet mania of his contemporary world, even as it unleashes something primal, hungry, and slightly dangerous in Jamie. As his search for the elusive Dean Foster turns ever more obsessive, undermining his friendships, his income, and his fidelity to his partner, Jamie is forced to decide what he is willing to risk in the pursuit of the truth. "Engaging . . . the flow and intensity of the writing make it difficult to put Soehnlein's book down . . . With remarkably stylish and witty prose, Soehnlein keeps the reading convincing and compelling, displaying a knack for giving just enough detail to put the reader right in the scene."--The San Francisco Chronicle
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