Friday, March 3, 2017
Cities of Men: A Novel by William Jensen
In 1987, twelve-year-old Cooper Balsam's mother, Arden, disappears without a trace. Cooper's father, Percy, a Vietnam veteran struggling with PTSD, doesn't seem too concerned. "This isn't the first time. She's done it before." As days pass, Cooper begins to act out and withdraw from the world, and his growing animosity toward his father's ambivalence begins to escalate even as Percy and Cooper begin to actively search for the woman in their lives. From the hills of Southern California, to the deserts of Arizona, and down to the beaches of Mexico, the father and son will look for someone who may not want to be found for reasons they don't yet understand.
Cooper, up until this point has been living an unremarkable life. His parents are neither rich nor poor, his house neither big nor small. His mother Arden seems to long for the finer things, not just for herself but she wants Cooper to want them for himself as well. His dad is a hard worker, and seems to be a good father and husband.
One day 12 year old Cooper and his father Percy come home from a movie to an empty house. Cooper's mom is gone. A note simply stating "good-bye. I've gone off on an adventure" is all she left behind. She didn't even bother to sign it.
Cooper is understandably shaken. He's also angry that his father Percy doesn't seem to share his concern. His attitude is "she's done it before" and he tells Cooper she'll be back.
As the days go by without Arlen's return, Cooper's anger needs an outlet and he begins to act out in inappropriate ways. He has nobody he can really confide in since his mother is the one he always felt able to talk to. He has no close friends, only the neighborhood ne'er-do-well who is a poor choice and a worse influence. The tension builds as Percy and Cooper begin searching for Arlen.
This was a tense but not over emotional read, touching on the subjects of depression, PTSD and parental relationships. It makes you wonder how much you really know about your parents, and how much you would really want to know.
4 out of 5 stars from me.
I received an advance copy for review