Spanning over twenty-five years of a radically shifting cultural landscape, The Given World is a major debut novel about war’s effects on those left behind, by an author who is “strong, soulful, and deeply gifted."
(Lorrie Moore, New York Times bestselling author of Birds of America)
On sale April 14—Order your copy today
Her family shattered, Riley finds refuge in isolation and drugs until she falls in love with a boy from the reservation, but he, too, is on his way to the war. Riley takes off as well, in search of Mick, or of a way to be in the world without him. She travels from Montana to San Francisco and from there to Vietnam. Among the scarred angels she meets along the way are Primo, a half-blind vet with a secret he can’t keep; Lu, a cab-driving addict with an artist’s eye; Phuong, a Saigon barmaid, Riley’s conscience and confidante; and Grace, a banjo-playing girl on a train, carrying her grandmother’s ashes in a tin box. All are part of a lost generation, coming of age too quickly as they struggle to reassemble lives disordered by pain and loss. At center stage is Riley, a masterpiece of vulnerability and tenacity, wondering if she’ll ever have the courage to return to her parents’ farm, to its ghosts and memories—resident in a place she has surrendered, surely, the right to call home.
In 1968, when Riley is thirteen,
her brother Mick goes missing in Vietnam.