The powerful and inspiring debut from Susan Nussbaum, the 2012 winner of Barbara Kingsolver’s PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, invites us into a landscape populated with young people whose lives have been irreversibly changed by misfortune but whose voices resound with resilience, courage, and humor.
Inside the halls of ILLC, an institution for juveniles with disabilities, we discover a place that is deeply different from and yet remarkably the same as the world outside. Nussbaum crafts a multifaceted portrait of a way of life hidden from most of us. In this isolated place on Chicago’s South Side, friendships are forged, trust is built, and love affairs begin.It’s in these alliances that the residents of this neglected community ultimately find the strength to bond together, resist their mistreatment, and finally fight back. And in the process, each is transformed.
“This is fiction at its best. The story’s sharp eye allows no one to take shelter, and it doesn’t flinch. A stunning accomplishment.” – Barbara Kingsolver, author of The Poisonwood Bible
“The voices that propel Susan Nussbaum’s novel are so rich with language and feeling that they command the ear and—a word I rarely use—the heart. Her characters’ lives are difficult, but miraculously, her novel is all fierce energy and wit, a celebration of strength, dignity, and the cathartic pleasure of telling it like it is.” —Rosellen Brown, author of Before and After