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Brad Land is a young man in search of escape, and looking forward to attending Clemson University with his younger brother, Brett. But one night, as he's leaving a party, Brad crosses paths with the wrong people and is brutally assaulted; his wounds are not only physical but psychological as well.
In the lonely, terrifying aftermath of the attack, Brad licks his wounds at home. Brett has gone ahead to Clemson and quickly joins a fraternity. Initially derailed by the crime, Brad's college plans materialize, and he is rapidly swept up in Brett's world of rush parties. Brad endures cruel, dehumanizing hazing rituals in an attempt to live up to his younger brother. But to Brad's dismay, Brett keeps his distance; he understands that acceptance in the fraternal world can only be won alone.
Land's spare language, drawing comparisons to A Million Little Pieces and Fight Club, never loses the delicate thread of complicated emotions he feels, perfectly highlighting the vulnerability of a young man forced to face the violence inflicted upon him. When the fraternity brothers turn their unique brand of savagery on one of Brad's fellow pledges with disastrous results, he must confront a painful choice: to accept the false refuge of becoming one of "them" or to cast himself out, seeking courage and strength in kindness, rather than in "belonging." (Winter/Spring 2004 Selection)