"Set against the backdrop of Leavenworth’s prison-industrial complex, Cote Smith’s debut novel bravely reveals that home is where the hurt is. But thanks to the graces threaded throughout Hurt People, Smith soothes the ache and reminds us that family isn’t just a thing we inhabit—family is a thing we do." - Smith Henderson, author of Fourth of July Creek
It’s the summer of 1988 in Leavenworth, Kansas, a town home to four prisons that has been shaken by the recent escape of a convict. But for two young brothers, the only thing that matters is the pool in their apartment complex. Their mother forbids the boys to swim alone, but she’s always at work trying to make ends meet after splitting with their police officer father. With no one home to supervise, the boys decide to break the rules.
While blissfully practicing their cannonballs and dives, they meet Chris, a mysterious stranger who promises an escape from their broken-home blues. As the older brother and Chris grow closer, the younger brother detects the danger of this new friendship and desperately tries to keep his brother from slipping away.
Beautifully atmospheric and psychologically suspenseful, Cote Smith’s Hurt People shows us how when we’re not paying attention, we hurt the ones we claim to love the most.
Cote Smith grew up in Leavenworth, Kansas, and on various army bases around the country. He earned his MFA from the University of Kansas, and his stories have been featured in One Story, Crazyhorse, Third Coast, and FiveChapters, among other publications. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas. Hurt People is his first novel. cotesmith.com
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