The Lies That Bind

The Lies That Bind

5.0 4
by Edward De Angelo, Bruce Reizen

Edward DeAngelo's debut novel The Lies That Bind is a gripping, resonant work, emotional and true, that weighs the complex question: What defines fatherhood-blood, legal obligation, or love? This exquisite novel about the complicated ties and ambiguities that irrevocably bind us to one another introduces an extraordinary new talent in contemporary

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Edward DeAngelo's debut novel The Lies That Bind is a gripping, resonant work, emotional and true, that weighs the complex question: What defines fatherhood-blood, legal obligation, or love? This exquisite novel about the complicated ties and ambiguities that irrevocably bind us to one another introduces an extraordinary new talent in contemporary fiction.

Business executive Peter Morrison and his ex-wife, Joan, an artist, were never right for each other-Pete dreamed of a comfortable family life in the suburbs while Joan envisioned a more bohemian existence. Nonetheless, when their marriage failed after eight years, Pete was devastated. He couldn't imagine not sharing his home and day-to-day life with his young son, Sam-knowing court-sanctioned visits would never be consolation for his loneliness and pain.

Five years later Pete-who's never remarried still lives for his visits with thirteen-year-old Sam. But over the years Pete has been plagued by nagging doubts about their connection, as they've never shared physical similiarities or common interests. Though his devotion to Sam is steadfast, Pete can't stop asking himself whether the boy he loves so much is really his. So, when an opportunity arises to take a paternity test, he seizes the opportunity-and discovers that his worst fears are true.

Overcome with feelings of anger and betrayal, Pete confronts Joan with the test result. She strikes back, cutting off his visitation rights *in order to keep Sam from finding out the truth. Suddenly Pete finds himself without a son-and without a father's legal right to get the boy back. Desperate for a solution and spurred on by an ambitious lawyer, Pete brings a lawsuit thatbreaks new legal ground 'in defining what a father is. Overnight the private war over Sam's custody becomes front-page news-and the very public trial forces Pete and Joan to face the truth about their marriage and the lies that bind them both to Sam. But before a judge decides, Pete and Sam must answer that same question themselves-and discover the truths that determine the meaning of family.

An honest and profound novel written with great skill and compassion, The Lies That Bind is a journey of the heart that no reader will soon forget.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
What does it mean to be a father? That's the question DeAngelo thoughtfully and exhaustively addresses in this serious-minded legal drama. Peter Morrison, a successful, middle-aged, self-made Boston computer company executive, has been divorced from his wife, Joan, for eight years when nagging suspicions about the paternity of their 13-year-old son, Sam, induce him to submit to a blood test. Pete has always been the perfect father, affectionate and generous, and even after he discovers that Sam is not, in fact, his son, he plans to continue to fill a fatherly role. But a confrontation with Joan makes it clear that nothing can ever be the same again. Cutting off child support after Joan denies his visitation rights and issues a restraining order, Pete lies by omission, conveniently forgetting to tell his lawyer about the blood test, which, of course, is soon revealed, upsetting everyone involved, especially Sam, who begins cutting school and shoplifting. When Pete decides to sue Joan, trial in family court is an acrimonious, explosive affair. First-timer DeAngelo, a family lawyer out of the Massachusetts attorney general's office, creates believable characters; Sam's conversations with his father are authentically pitched and moving. Yet the novel belabors its themes, weighting endless talk over scene setting. Still, DeAngelo delves intelligently into legal and emotional issues. (Jan.) Forecast: The publisher likens this novel to Kramer vs. Kramer. The comparison is apt, and film rights have already been optioned by Sony-Tristar. Given the current interest in DNA technology and the perennial issue of child-custody in a divorce-prone society, this book may enjoy substantial sales, boosted by author appearances in Boston, New York and Philadelphia. BOMC alternate; audio rights to Brilliance. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An affecting debut about a father's attempts to hold on to his son when he learns he's not the biological parent. DeAngelo handles a potentially melodramatic subject with perfect emotional pitch, offering a perceptive tale about parents who may no longer love each other but still care desperately for their child. Peter Morrison, the father and narrator, is one of those well-intentioned men who think that what's good for them is good for those they love. A successful Boston businessman, he falls hard for struggling artist Joan, marries her, and buys her his dream house after she becomes pregnant. But Joan is increasingly unhappy, so much so that when their son Sam is five, she asks for a divorce. Peter, who dearly loves his wife and son, reluctantly agrees but insists that Joan keep the house and provides generous alimony so she doesn't have to work. As the years pass, observing how unalike he and Sam are in looks as well as temperament, Peter begins to worry that he may not be the child's real father. The thought nags him so obsessively that when Sam is 13, he arranges blood tests for the both of them. The results indicate that indeed he is not the father—and Peter's life begins to unravel. Furious about what Peter has done, Joan asks for a restraining order to prevent him from seeing Sam. In desperation, he files a suit claiming that he has been, and still is, the boy's father in everything but genetic material. The court decides otherwise, but Peter doesn't give up easily and neither does Sam. Even Joan (less well-drawn than her husband and child) begins to rethink matters when an unexpected crisis calls for new approaches. Resonatingwithintelligence, insight, and compassionfor fathers and sons determined to connect whatever the cost: a sensitive portrait of conflict in which there are no clear-cut victories, only painful adjudications. Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection; author tour

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Product Details

Brilliance Audio
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4.23(w) x 7.15(h) x 2.65(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I had never planned to take the blood test until the moment I decided to do it. In fact, I had probably decided a dozen times beforehand not to do it. But, despite all my efforts to stop thinking about it, in the last few months before I did it, there was never a time when the idea wasn't lurking somewhere in the back of my mind, like a burglar waiting for the moment when my good sense had temporarily left home with the windows unlocked. It was never a plan; it was more Eke a feeling that I had each morning. The alarm would go off and I'd wake up to the sound of the public radio voices droning on about the latest, even more boring political sex scandal. I'd pull myself out of bed, feeling pretty cheerful-as cheerful as you can be when you're middle-aged, and starting to put on some extra weight and too busy at work and divorced and always late for everything.

And then by the time I got to the bathroom, I would remember. I'd be examining my face in the mirror or groping for my razor or just standing there getting ready to open my eyes, and I'd get the feeling. It wasn't sadness. It was more like dread, but a helpless dread. I would stand at the sink and look into the mirror and say, "This isn't my son's face. He's not mine."

I can't say when I had my first suspicions. It may have been from before Sam was even born, thirteen and a half years ago. Every once in a while in the midst of all the excitement and anticipation of the pregnancy, I would look up and catch my then-wife, Joan, staring at me, both hands resting lightly on her stomach, with this odd look, as if she was about to say something, and it would flash through my mindthat she was going to tell me not to bother with becoming a father; this was all a hoax.

Of course, once Sam was born, all seven and a half wrinkled pounds of him, the idea that he wasn't mine never occurred to me. Every time I walked out with the stroller, some old lady would stop and say something like, "He has your coloring" or "I can see your smile." Even then, in the first few weeks, when I was still brimming over with the grandiose belief that this new life could never have taken shape without me, I knew that a baby's looks change every day and that, to be honest, he resembled a science fiction character more than either Joan or me. But still it was reassurance; I believed that someday I would see a grown Sam smile, and it would be my smile.

And then one day my mother, Joan, and I were all watching Sam sleep in his crib. My mother was looking down at his face, crinkled up in a particular way that seemed to me the only way a baby could look, and she sighed and said to me, "You never looked a bit like that when you were a baby. I can't believe he's yours."

it wasn't a bad thing to say. I couldn't believe he was mine either. The fact that he was my son was a mystery I accepted on faith, like the mystery that each morning, when I peeked into his crib before hustling off to work, he was still breathing, still pink and warm and clutching his stuffed elephant upside down in his fist.

Maybe it was nothing more substantial than that. Maybe it was just all the times during those first few years of Sam's life when we should have been a perfect family, but Joan was holding back. Maybe it was the way she seemed to withdraw from me after Sam's birth, the way she checked so far out of the marriage that when she finally asked for a divorce five years later, it was an anticlimax. It was just a hundred little things she did or said that didn't make any sense, but that always made me wonder.

I watched Sam grow and loved him more than anything else, loved him even more fiercely and devotedly after Joan and I were divorced because he was all the family I had left. He kept changing every day, and I kept waiting to see myself in him. And that didn't happen.

It's not like there weren't a million things about him to love and delight over. It's just that not very many of them seemed to come from me. He was a nice-looking kid--small, skinny, and dark, with big brown eyes and a mop of curly hair that my mother always said was wasted on a boy. And I'm tall and fair, with green eyes and a thick thatch of sandy hair that I had always hoped Id pass on. People would look at the half dozen pictures of him that I had placed around my office and I could almost see them hesitate a moment before they asked, "Your son?"

And at times it seemed as if he and I would have had more interests in common than we did if we had been matched at random. I'm a senior executive in a high-tech corporation; for most of my career I've crunched numbers and, now that I'm the boss, I review numbers that other people crunch for me. Sam struggled with long division and got a look of panic when I tried to convert some daily situation into a little pre-algebra word problem. I'm tone deaf and never listen to anything on the radio but the news.

The Lies That Bind. Copyright © by Edward DeAngelo. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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