20 Books You'll Devour in Your Downtime
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Each of us is informed by our past, but some are imprisoned by it. In Brian DeLeeuw's second novel, The Dismantling, Simon Worth, a man both tortured and immobilized by the failures of his youth, finds himself drifting and desperate enough to become ensnared in New York City's illegal organ trade. A lackey at the discreetly named Health Solutions company, Simon matches down-on-their-luck donors with recipients perilously low on the legit wait list, concocting backstories to help them fool the transplant board of a local hospital. Any sentient reader will find herself liver deep in moral quandaries as the story unfolds: Why shouldn't a willing donor be allowed to save a life? Do the mistakes of Simon's past and the misdeeds of his present make him a lesser man, or is he a victim of circumstance? And is it cool for him to befriend one of Health Solutions' donors? Conventional wisdom holds that a reader must choose between propulsive plots and elegant prose, but sentence by precisely wrought sentence, DeLeeuw serves up a nimble narrative replete with sticky bits of humanity, like the psychic tremor Simon experiences at the sight of his anatomy lab cadaver, or his oddly tender appreciation for the befriended donor's crooked tooth: "He liked how its irregularity reshaped the rest of her face," DeLeeuw writes, "the flaw making the whole more appealing." That's an apt description of this nuanced protagonist, too, whose failures of character ultimately drive him toward redemption.
— Katie Arnold-Ratliff