Our Burden's Light

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Overview

Fall, in its first weeks, scatters its footprints through the Shenandoah Valley---mist and color, shadow and cold---sparsely at first, and then with greater fury. As Our Burden’s Light opens, two families are caught on either side of a moment of small-town violence; subsequently fighting desperately to find their separate ways out of its grasp. One family combusts under the weight of loss, while the other is quietly buried by it.

Debut novelist Patrick Thomas Casey reimagines ...

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Overview

Fall, in its first weeks, scatters its footprints through the Shenandoah Valley---mist and color, shadow and cold---sparsely at first, and then with greater fury. As Our Burden’s Light opens, two families are caught on either side of a moment of small-town violence; subsequently fighting desperately to find their separate ways out of its grasp. One family combusts under the weight of loss, while the other is quietly buried by it.

Debut novelist Patrick Thomas Casey reimagines the Edenic story of being cast out of paradise, using the lens of contemporary America and the poignant stories of three people knotted together. Our Burden’s Light traces the arcs of innocence and its loss, memory and love, home and its inevitable vanishing, which turn through Casey’s beautifully-rendered characters’ fracturing lives, in a chorus of voices moving ever farther away from the valley they once shared. This is a powerful entrée by a talented new voice in literary fiction.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Casey's debut novel reads like a novella winding through short stories linked not so much by characters and narrative, but by themes of grief. In the overarching story, Shenandoah Valley developer Robert Shelley tries to hold his family together after his teenage son, Grant, is found murdered in the woods. While the teenage killer, Hayden Clyde, and Evelyn Warren, Grant's ex-girlfriend turned Hayden's new girlfriend, grapple with the magnitude of their actions, Robert sinks his teeth deeper into the knowledge that neither he nor his son is an innocent victim. Though the short story–like chapters about people losing one another often feel out of joint with the central narrative, readers who enjoy that specifically Southern breed of dark, lush literature will savor this book's sinuous sentences and their tendency to switch back, hone in, and trace the border regions of life and death. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312533908
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/13/2010
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

PATRICK THOMAS CASEY was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and now lives in New Orleans

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This is an interesting look at the grieving process when an unexpected tragic death occurs

    In the Shenandoah Valley, the murder of teenager Grant Shelley shakes his family. Only the actions of his father, Robert keep the grieving Shelley brood together as none of them understand why it happened and moving on and getting closure feels impossible to do.

    Grant's teenage killer, Hayden Clyde struggles with what he did in the woods. Also not coping very well is Grant's former girlfriend and Hayden's current one Evelyn Warren. Meanwhile even as he remains the core holding the family together, Robert wonders what he could have done differently; especially as he begins to realize his late son is not quite the innocent victim paragon the Shelley brood prefers to believe; nor in many ways he knows is he not a shining example.

    This is an interesting look at the grieving process when an unexpected tragic death occurs. Patrick Thomas Casey makes a strong case that everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time even with an anchor keeping all moored. Although more a series of vignettes tied together by Grant's death than a novel, readers will appreciate this deep look at the living after a young person unexpectedly dies violently.

    Harriet Klausner

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