Book of the Week

Each week, we'll let you know about the new releases the editors of O and couldn't stop reading.
Son of a Gun

Son of a Gun

256 pages; Random House
Amid the chaos in the days following 9/11, 20-year-old Justin St. Germain thinks, "I knew the world had changed, but I didn't know how much." Later that afternoon, he finds out his mother, Debbie St. Germain, has been murdered at the hands of her fifth husband in a trailer outside  Tombstone, Arizona. In Son of a Gun, he excavates that loss, starting with his mother's story—a tough, Catholic girl from Philadelphia who jumped from planes as an army paratrooper and "didn't take any shit from men unless she was in love with them." She raised Justin and his brother Josh as a single mother in a hardscrabble desert landscape, always optimistic about a brighter future for her boys. Eventually, she met Ray, a hardened ex-cop, and the two disappeared together, living off the grid, sending postcards from locales dotting the Southwest. St. Germain searches for clues that led to his mother's death, poring over police reports, meeting with each of her former husbands, visiting gun shows and a Parents of Murdered Children meeting. Forgoing maudlin self-pity, St. Germain reveals his grief with grace and understatement. In the process, he explores not only his own history, but also the culture of American gunslingers and violence against women. The result is an unexpectedly timely and raw memoir that is as much an ode to his mother’s life as it is the tale of the embarkation of his own.
— Abbe Wright