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Christopher Coake's book of stories We're In Trouble (Penguin, 2005) won him a PEN Award and led to him being named by Granta as one of America's best young writers. A native of Ohio, where You Came Back is set, he now lives in Reno where he teaches creative writing at the University of Nevada. This is his first novel.
A study of the mental gymnastics of grief, Coake's first novel is a vivid conception of a parent's worst nightmare, with a twist. Seven years ago, Mark lost his seven-year-old son to an accident; he has since divorced his wife, Chloe, and has a new fiancee. His tenuous equilibrium is shattered by a report from the current owners of Mark and Chloe's old home, where their son died: it's haunted by their son's ghost. While Chloe reacts positively, Mark becomes angry and starts drinking again, and the resultant confusion is further complicated by the introduction of a spirit medium. Mark barely escapes the turmoil with his life. VERDICT A captivating page-turner that examines the mechanics of loss and the seductions of belief, this novel, with its combination of tragedy and hope, has an irresistible appeal, offering quite a ride while still delivering a cold dose of reality. Readers will be left wondering what they would do in Mark's place. Good for all who enjoy fiction about family relationships. [See Prepub Alert, 12/19/11.]-Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.