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Breaking Her Fall

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About the Author

STEPHEN GOODWIN is a professor of creative writing at George Mason University and the author of three previous books. Goodwin has also directed the literature program at the National Endowment for the Arts, and he served two terms as president of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. He lives in Washington, D.C.


Tucker Jones, all-round nice guy, devoted single father, and successful small business man in 1998 Washington, DC, watches in horror as it all starts to slip away from him with the kind of late-night phone call every parent dreads. At an unsupervised party, his lovely, inexperienced 14-year-old daughter, Kat, gets in way over her head with alcohol and randy boys. When Tucker races to her rescue, a confrontation with the boy at whose home the party is taking place results in a terrible accident. Suddenly, Tucker's secure world dissolves in a tidal wave of repercussions. Lawsuits and criminal charges, as well as an ex-wife who now wants custody of Kat and 12-year-old Will, nearly overwhelm Tucker's heroic determination to keep his family together. Goodwin (Kin; The Blood of Paradise) pulls the reader into the soul of this deeply thoughtful father as he battles ferociously to heal his children, who have put their suffering in the only safe place they know: their father's heart. He thus enters territory usually reserved for strong female characters-with enchanting success. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/03.]-Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Goodwin's first novel in over two decades (after Blood of Paradise, 1979) is psychologically acute, if somewhat overplotted. Tucker Jones is a 44-year-old divorced father of two living in Washington, D.C. His life is settled in a comfortable routine until the night he receives an enigmatic phone call informing him that his 14-year-old daughter, Kat, has been involved in sexual games at a party. Blinded by worry and rage, Tucker finds the party and confronts a group of boys while looking for Kat; before the night is over, a high school junior loses his eye, and Tucker becomes embroiled in criminal proceedings that threaten to destroy his career (he owns a landscape business), family and financial stability. Goodwin tackles many subplots, including Tucker's relationship with Kat and her younger brother, Will; the ongoing litigation; and an affair that Tucker has with the mother of Kat's best friend. Tucker's reflections ramble from his son's fishing exploits to his ex-wife to the garage band he has formed with several other parents in the neighborhood. The plot becomes so busy that Goodwin loses control of the narrative at points. Still, the author's emotional compass is unfailing; he offers a memorable exploration of familial love and penance, with a likably bewildered-and articulate-protagonist: "I groaned with lust and remorse and an awareness of the disorder that seemed ready to swallow me up." Agent, Timothy Seldes. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"A corker--vivid, brilliantly marbled with harmonies and textures and people vibrant with life."
--Richard Bausch
"A frank, plain-spoken, passionate novel that got its grips on me. It is,
in one sense, a page-turner, and in another a true and good story of
human frailty and imperfection survived."--RICHARD FORD
"This summer's exquisitely rendered migraine is Stephen Goodwin's
novel Breaking Her Fall. It's an intelligent story full of vivid characters."

"Goodwin gets so many things right here. Reminiscent of Robert Boswell, this is a layered, compassionate, extraordinarily graceful novel."
-- (07/01/2003)
"The tension in this novel begins in the first paragraph and does not cease until the last few pages."
--Huntsville Times
"Smart, serious, and contemplative."
--Kirkus (07/01/2003)
"Psychologically acute.... A memorable exploration of familial love and penance, with a likeably bewildered - and articulate - protagonist."
-- (06/30/2003)

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