The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs (Hardcover)
October 2017 Indie Next List
“Long-suffering Hattie Campbell and her irascible husband, Abel, are in their 80s and still manipulating, enabling, and worrying about their four adult children, all of whom suffer, to some degree or other, from addiction, jealousy, and neediness. The sun around which they circle is Billy, the youngest of the siblings, who is both the most likable and most damaged. As Abel's health declines and Billy deteriorates, the remaining siblings compete to win their parents' favor. Peery's long-awaited follow-up to her National Book Award-finalist The River Beyond the World is a sympathetic portrait of a dysfunctional, complex, and often funny clan who, although they try, can't slip the family ties that bind.”
— Cindy Pauldine, The River's End Bookstore, Oswego, NY
"A brilliantly moving and unforgettable novel." - Jill McCorkle, author of Life After Life
Janet Peery's first novel, The River Beyond the World, was a National Book Award finalist in 1996. Acclaimed for her gorgeous writing and clear-eyed gaze into the hearts of people, Peery now returns with her second novel, The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs.
On a summer evening in the blue-collar town of Amicus, Kansas, the Campbell family gathers for a birthday dinner for their ailing patriarch, retired judge Abel Campbell, prepared and hosted by their still-hale mother Hattie. But when Billy, the youngest sibling--with a history of addiction, grand ideas, and misdemeanors--passes out in his devil's food cake, the family takes up the unfinished business of Billy's sobriety.
Billy's wayward adventures have too long consumed their lives, in particular Hattie's, who has enabled his transgressions while trying to save him from Abel's disappointment. As the older children--Doro, Jesse, ClairBell, and Gideon--contend with their own troubles, they compete for the approval of the elderly parents they adore, but can't quite forgive.
With knowing humor and sure-handed storytelling, Janet Peery reveals a family at its best and worst, with old wounds and new, its fractures and feuds, and yet its unbreakable bonds.
About the Author
JANET PEERY's books include Alligator Dance (stories), What the Thunder Said (a novella and stories), and her first novel The River Beyond the World, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has received numerous honors for her fiction including the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Whiting Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. She lives in Cape Charles, Virginia.