Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

Adult Fiction Pick by Jean-Louis

fourth of july

(Harper Collins, 2014)

If you want drama, adventure, mixed with heartache and danger evidently your best character choice is a social worker with the Department of Family Services. Pete Snow is that DFS worker trying to help people in desperate circumstances in the wilds of Montana. Coincidentally, Pete is fighting his own family demons and not always doing the best job of balancing his responsibilities.

This first novel by American writer Smith Henderson is gritty and real and utterly riveting.  Pete’s family life is in free fall–his wife and daughter have decamped to Texas, his brother is on the lam, and his parents are at the end of their days. And into all of this wanders a young boy, Benjamin Pearl, a nearly feral creature who is living rough in the Montana mountain wilderness. In an attempt to find out who Benjamin belongs to Pete accompanies the boy up into the mountains and encounters Jeremiah Pearl. The Pearl clan are off the radar–with a vengeance. Paranoid, survivalist, anti-government, and resistant to assistance. Despite all the warning signs, Pete cannot help but be drawn into the lives of the Pearl family and so are we as readers. What has brought these people to this dangerous clash with authority?

Pete’s drama take him across the American West as he tries to stitch his family and professional life back into order. Along the way he runs across a friendly drinking buddy of a judge, vengeful parole officers, power crazed law officials, beaten down social workers, good hearted foster families, and down-right loony survivalists who nurse a death wish. This novel has it all. It is a big read with a lot of energy, passages that will make your jaw drop open, and scenes that will leave you in tears. Check this out!

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