Untouchable

Untouchable by Scott O'Connor

Untouchable

By Scott O’Connor
It is the autumn of 1999. A year has passed since Lucy Darby’s unexpected death, leaving her husband David and son Whitley to mend the gaping hole in their lives. David, a trauma-site cleanup technician, spends his nights expunging the violent remains of strangers, helping their families to move on, though he is unable to do the same. Whitley – an 11 year-old social pariah known simply as The Kid – hasn’t spoken since his mother’s death. Instead, he communicates through a growing collection of notebooks, living in a safer world of his own silent imagining.

  • ISBN: 978-1935562382
  • 380 pages
  • May 2011
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It is the autumn of 1999. A year has passed since Lucy Darby’s unexpected death, leaving her husband David and son Whitley to mend the gaping hole in their lives. David, a trauma-site cleanup technician, spends his nights expunging the violent remains of strangers, helping their families to move on, though he is unable to do the same. Whitley – an 11 year-old social pariah known simply as The Kid – hasn’t spoken since his mother’s death. Instead, he communicates through a growing collection of notebooks, living in a safer world of his own silent imagining.

As the impending arrival of Y2K casts a shadow of uncertainty around them, their own precarious reality begins to implode. Questions pertaining to the events of Lucy’s death begin to haunt David, while The Kid, who still believes his mother is alive, enlists the help of his small group of misfit friends to bring her back. As David continues to lose his grip on reality and The Kid’s sense of urgency grows, they begin to uncover truths that will force them to confront their deepest fears about each other and the wounded family they are trying desperately to save.

REVIEWS

“A woman’s death sends her trauma-site cleanup tech husband and their troubled son into a tailspin in O’Connor’s heartfelt first novel (after novella Among Wolves). During the late days of the Y2K scare, David Darby mops up the gore left behind at suicide and crime scenes, and sleeps in his truck rather than in the bed he used to share with his wife. His son, fifth-grader Whitley (more commonly known as “The Kid”), meanwhile, refuses to believe his mother is dead and vows to remain mute until she returns. This doesn’t do him any favors at school, where he’s already something of an outcast. As Darby deteriorates, picking fights and pocketing souvenirs from death scenes, the Kid sets up a refuge of his own in a burned out house in their neighborhood. The story is involving and moves easily through material that could smother with treacle, but O’Connor’s strong characters—especially the Kid, whose elementary school humiliations are especially well handled—and his ease with conveying their emotions keeps the novel afloat as father and son make small steps toward getting it together.”
–Publishers Weekly

“O’Connor’s prose is as beautifully terse as his plot…It’s an affecting mix, squeezing the reader’s emotions so that when the myth of the “perfect” family begins to dissolve through flashbacks, it feels like the inevitable waking from a halcyon dream.”
–Booklist

““Meet Whitley Darby, aka The Kid: bullied, brutalized, poor, motherless, nearly friendless, voiceless, lost, untouchable. He’s desperate for a hero or an angel or a miracle or something . . . anything . . and he’ll probably have to find it on his own. There are no easy answers or safe archetypes here, nor is there a single iota of sugar-coating. The world of Scott O’Connor’s debut novel is tough, worn, and thoroughly lived in, and is as vivid and painfully honest as anything I’ve read in a very long time. Do not sleep on Untouchable, this is the real thing.”
–Nathan Singer, author of A Prayer for Dawn and In the Light of You

“Once in a very long time, a book comes along that resonates and sings with heart. It’s characters so real you want to touch them, hug them. Their peril so well told you are filled with fear as you are a mere observer of their adventure. You find yourself holding your breath as you read the last pages of the story for all could be lost or won in the confines of this bound paper. And when it is over you wish you could read it all for the first time, again. That is how good this book is.”
–Crimespree Magazine

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