A gritty and gut-wrenching debut novel.
Pete Snow, the protagonist of Smith Henderson's astonishing debut novel, Fourth of July Creek, is an overworked social worker in rural Montana who helps people at the very fringe of society. Lost in spirals of abuse, poverty, mental illness and drug addiction, they mirror the land itself: wild, beautiful, harsh and unforgiving. And Snow, who is often the only thing standing between them and jail (or worse), is a complete wreck of a man.
Recently divorced, he and his ex-wife are both alcoholics unable to stop focusing on their own shattered lives long enough to realize their daughter, the barely-teenaged Rachel, is carving her own dangerous and destructive path. Estranged from his father and with a brother on the run from the law, Snow is barely keeping his life together when he meets and befriends an anarchist, Jeremiah Pearl, who is living in the woods with his son.
Set in the Reagan era, the story unfolds around Pete and also through the voice of Rachel. In Q&A form, in chapters without page numbers, Rachel provides a heartbreaking backbone to this uniquely American tale of destruction, madness and redemption.
Fourth of July Creek is not a happy story. It's an amazing literary feat. Smith Henderson. Read this book and remember his name.