Book of the Week

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

Wise Men

335 pages; Regan Arthur
In 1950, Hilly Wise is an everyday teenager living in working-class New Haven, Connecticut. By 1951, after his father's first big victory as a plaintiff attorney, he is the son of a multi-millionaire. His family moves to the upscale suburban village of Wren's Bridge (where "we were, I'm sure of it, the first family of Jews on our street") and then to Cape Cod for the summer. While at the family's new oceanfront home, this introspective young man reels with the surprising and often ugly consequences of almost unimaginable wealth. His mother loads up on crystal and cashmere, while his father descends into drunken binges, directing his rage at Lem, the black caretaker who lives above the garage. When Hilly develops a crush on the Lem's niece—an attachment discouraged by everyone involved—he makes a rash choice that changes all their lives and not for the better. Much of this complex and honest novel is about the possibility of redemption for our past actions. But the emotionally searing sections revolve around Hilly's ambitious, tyrannical father, who is endowed with a mixture of such uplifting and upsetting qualities that you're constantly sifting through secrets and motivations, trying to understand him—and getting sucked into the story in the process. The novel does slow in the latter half, but hold on. The last 10 pages turn the whole story on its head and makes such sense,  you may just gasp and say, "But of course! did I not see that?" Which is one of those pleasures a very fine novel can provide, to best us and yet make us feel all the more satisfied the experience.
— Leigh Newman