A search for identity and connection amidst tragedy and war propels this engaging novel.

by Manuel Luis Martinez

ISBN: 978-1-55885977-7
Publication Date: September 30, 2023
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 328

Not yet published

Virginia’s mom finally leaves Opelousas, Louisiana—in an ambulance, dead from an overdose—the day before the girl turns eighteen. Her mother never told her who her father is, though she regularly blamed him for all that had gone wrong in her life. “Your real father was nothing but a no-account druggie, wife-slugging, whore-mongering, sonuvabitching jailbird.” But Virginia has a stuffed dog he gave her, and she knows there must be more to the story.

With few clues about his identity, Virginia sets out to find her father. She meets Daniel, a stepbrother she didn’t know about, who has his own share of problems. He’s living in his mom’s garage after a month in rehab following the Persian Gulf War. Oxy and vodka help dull the pain of his PTSD. Haunted by the image of the pregnant Iraqi woman who died on his watch, he is sure his inability to save her and the fetus caused his wife’s miscarriage.

Daniel agrees to help Virginia find her dead father’s family in the hope that orchestrating a reunion will absolve him of his sins in Fallujah. As the pair navigates the landmines of multiple family secrets, they realize they share more than they knew. Chasing after dysfunctional relatives and their own ghosts, it’s not long before things blow up in their faces. In this exploration of Latinos living on the outskirts of society, Martinez crafts scenes of war, grief and loss that will remain with readers long after the last page is turned.