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The Orphans of Race Point: A Novel

The Orphans of Race Point: A Novel

4.5 56
by Patry Francis

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Set on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, a suspenseful page-turning saga of love, murder, and the true meaning of faith from the author of the acclaimed The Liar’s Diary.

Set in the close-knit Portuguese community of Provincetown, Massachusetts, The Orphans of Race Point traces the relationship between Hallie Costa and Gus Silva, who meet as children


Set on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, a suspenseful page-turning saga of love, murder, and the true meaning of faith from the author of the acclaimed The Liar’s Diary.

Set in the close-knit Portuguese community of Provincetown, Massachusetts, The Orphans of Race Point traces the relationship between Hallie Costa and Gus Silva, who meet as children in the wake of a terrible crime that leaves Gus parentless. Their friendship evolves into an enduring and passionate love that will ask more of them than they ever imagined.

On the night of their high school prom, a terrible tragedy devastates their relationship and profoundly alters the course of their lives. And when, a decade later, Gus—now a priest—becomes entangled with a distraught woman named Ava and her daughter Mila, troubled souls who bring back vivid memories of his own damaged past, the unthinkable happens: he is charged with murder. Can Hallie save the man she’s never stopped loving, by not only freeing him from prison but also—finally—the curse of his past?

Told in alternating voices, The Orphans of Race Point illuminates the transformative power of love and the myriad ways we find meaning in our lives.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist (starred review)
“…this beautifully wrought novel is a sometimes wrenching but ultimately uplifting story of murder and betrayal in the face of faith, family in its truest sense, and—most of all—love.”
Caroline Leavitt
“Set against the coast of Provincetown, Patry Francis’s fierce, ravishing epic cuts deep to the bone about how love binds us together and breaks us apart, and how the past’s thumbprint rests on the present. Tender, violent, and alive, it’s also unforgettable.”
Jacquelyn Mitchard on The Liar's Diary
“Twists and turns but never lets go.”
Daily News on The Liar's Diary
“Outright chilling.”
Tess Gerritsen on The Liar's Diary
“A twisting ride full of dangerous curves and jaw-dropping surprises. This is one of my favorite reads of the year!”
Lee Child on The Liar's Diary
“Stunning psychological suspense which poses the eternal question: how well can you know the people you love? This is riveting, bite-your-nails reading and the arrival of a great new talent.”
Susan Henderson
“In The Orphans of Race Point, Patry Francis has poured a lifetime of wisdom into a thrilling, twisting plot, which holds up the human heart as a prism, turning it to show its many facets, its shadows and light.”
Barnstable Patriot
“This talented author engages our emotions and her descriptions are impeccable, and moving…it’s a joy to read a novel that’s expertly crafted right to the very end
Boston Globe
“Stretching over more than three decades, it’s a gripping tale of stubborn love, the legacy of domestic violence, and the family secrets children keep. A noir element crops up, too.”
Providence Journal
“Patry Francis has written the sort of sprawling, Dickensian novel that readers long for in this post-modern age….The Orphans of Race Point has a breakneck pace, engaging characters, and a vividly rendered setting.”
Romantic Times
“…a sweeping family drama with its inherent mysteries and secrets…readers will be absorbed by the tragedies that push the story along, and the often engaging voice.”
Library Journal
★ 05/15/2014
Like Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, this sprawling second novel by Massachusetts author Francis (The Liar's Diary) starts out with a traumatic incident involving a young boy befriended by a girl and expands from there into a Dickensian story in which criminals with murky motives mingle casually with the pure of heart. But instead of London or New York City, the tangled lives of the two motherless children, Gus and Hallie, and their friend, Neil, unfold on the beaches and narrow streets of Provincetown, on the outermost tip of Cape Cod, and in the seacoast city of New Bedford, MA. Fate lies heavily on the characters, as the book explores fatherhood, inheritance, human behavior, and the aspects of ourselves that can be changed. VERDICT Steeped in sea air and completely ignoring the tourist season, this story captures the essence of year-round life on the Cape and the Portuguese Catholic traditions of New Bedford fishermen as its themes of passionate treachery and abiding love play out in sometimes heartbreaking ways. Recommend to readers wondering what to read after The Goldfinch.—Laurie Cavanaugh, Holmes P.L., Halifax, MA

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.87(d)

Meet the Author

Patry Francis is the author of The Liar's Diary and the blog 100 Days of Discipline for Writers. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in the Tampa Review, Antioch Review, Colorado Review, Ontario Review, and American Poetry Review, among other publications. She is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and has twice been the recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant. She lives in Massachusetts.

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The Orphans of Race Point: A Novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Almost exactly a year ago, I read an early copy of Anthony Marra's The Constellation of Vital Phenomena and was so knocked out by it, I told anyone who would listen (and even some who wouldn't) to read this book. I was so thrilled when it began to get great buzz and win many awards. Reading Patry Francis' The Orphans of Race Point made me feel the same way. From the very first page, I fell in love with the story and the writing and the characters. Reading it, I was lost in the pages, and when people spoke to me, I did not hear them. I wanted to race through it, yet at the same time savor this incredible story and not have it ever end. It begins in 1978, with nine-year-old Hallie Costa, whose mother died tragically in a drunk driving accident and whose father is the town's beloved doctor, willing to help anyone in anyway he can, whether medically or assisting them with a family situation. Her father is called to a neighbor's home where a woman was murdered by her husband and their nine-year-old son Gus had been found catatonic in a closet. It was thought he witnessed the murder of his mother, but he was too traumatized to talk. Hallie's dad Nick went to visit Gus, and after a five hour staring contest in which Nick "looked into Gus' sorrows and he looked into" Nick's, Gus spoke his first words in weeks- "I give." Hallie and her friend Neil, who was Gus' best friend, visited Gus every day, and Hallie came up with the idea of reading David Copperfield to him. She thought the story of an orphan who mades good might inspire Gus. By the time they are in high school, Gus has become a football hero. He and Neil are still best friends, and Gus and Hallie have fallen in love. An incident happens at a beach party, and Gus' turbulent past plays a part in it, changing the three friends' lives forever. Fast forward and Gus has become a priest, Neil is an actor and Hallie is a doctor like her dad. Father Gus is approached by a woman who has been beaten by her husband and asks for his help. Father Gus advises her to get away from her husband and offers to help her, but the situation escalates and Gus is convicted of a murder he did not commit. This amazing story has so many compelling elements to it- there is the murder mystery, the love story and the true meaning of faith, friendship and family. The way it deals with faith and family also reminded me of Jennifer Haigh's gorgeous Faith, with its story of a priest mistakenly accused of a crime. The family that Hallie creates with people who are literal and figurative orphans is a beautiful one, and shows us that you don't need to be related to truly love someone deeply. Like Constellation, Francis weaves her story elements together to a surprising conclusion. I did not see it coming in any way, and was as blindsided just as much as the characters were. The writing is lovely and the characters Francis creates are so real, I wanted to reach out to these lost souls. I don't know who I could call my favorite- Hallie _"dutiful on her dad's side, unruly on her mom's side", Gus, who cared deeply for his flock and yet led a tortured life, or "misfit princess" Mila, the murdered woman's daughter. There are too many powerful scenes to choose a favorite- Hallie reading to young Gus, Mila visiting Gus in prison, Hallie ministering to her ill father, Nick's talk with Gus at the cottage- they all just touched my heart in a profoundly unforgettable way. The Orphans of Race Point is the must-read book this year. It is big- over 500 pages- but you will find yourself lost in the lives of these loving, sometimes tragic, people. If you happen to see me anywhere, I warn you, I will tell you- READ THIS BOOK.
The_Book_Wheel_Blog More than 1 year ago
I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.  Oh, how I loved this book! When I first requested it, I didn’t realize how long it was so when it came in the mail I was nervous about reading a 500+ page book by an author I had never read before. Not only was the book sensational, but I am definitely going to pick up up one of her other works in the near future. The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis follows the lives of Hallie and Gus, who became friends after a violent act left Gus an orphan. Their friendship did not take the traditional route (they didn’t meet on the playground), but from the beginning it’s evident that there are deeper ties that bind the two together than one would expect from two nine-year olds. As their friendship blossoms into something more in high school, another violent act leaves their lives shattered and their futures uncertain. As the two head in opposite directions in life, a third and final violent act brings their zig-zagging lives back together. Only this time, Gus is in prison and Hallie has to decide whether Gus is the man the law says he is or the man she thinks he is. Told over the course of three decades, The Orphans of Race Point explores the outer limits of friendships and the ties that bind. Each character is rich, flawed, and absolutely perfect. At no point during this book did I feel that the author could have done more or less, for each word and action was carefully crafted to catapult the reader toward a shocking end. Beyond the lives of Gus and Hallie, Francis uses secondary characters and a seaside backdrop to tell a story so stunning it will leave you staggering with emotion. With a story that transcends time, The Orphans of Race Point is the perfect book to cozy up. P.S. – It’d make a great Book Club pick, too!  Allison @ The Book Wheel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A life transforming book. Filled with wisdom,compassion and forgiveness. One of the best books written so far in 2014. Patry Francis does the writing world justice with this thoughtful,provocative novel. The characters pour their hearts out and will have you believing that Good does triumph Evil. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Complex plot and characters, I recommend it, especially for anyone with an affinity for the Cape.
LaurieC3 More than 1 year ago
The Orphans of Race Point is what to read after The Goldfinch! The perfect, sprawling summertime read, set in the Provincetown/New Bedford area of Massachusetts. Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
430 pages. Well edited. Cost $2.99. Follows a group of friends from first grade, through their fifties. The three main friends are the focus of this book. Each had a parent die and they call themseves the orphans. There is child abuse and some cursing. Sometimes violent. Sexual content, but undetailed.There is a lot of saddness. Gus, the primary character had a lot of troubles in his life. There is quite a bit of death. The cause of most of the friend's problems shocked me. This book was very interesting and had a great flow. I found it hard to put down. It is also very depressing. I am glad I read it, but I will not read it again. I prefer my fiction to be a more upbeat. This is a woman's book. It is not chick lit though. It is something like Beaches, Love Story or the Stepmom. Sad, but good. For adults. AD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow, emotional, well-written book that explores the bonds of a close knit town and the interweaving of everyone's lives. This explores topics from spousal abuse to religion and eternal love. I wish I could be more upset about the ending but it was written beautifully so I can't. The book is a little long and the story develops slowly but there are twists to make it worthwhile.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author put her heart and soul into this one. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A story line that keeps moving and changing… loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this was like a bad soap opera.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters all touched heart and we're so real to me I hated for it to end. I thought it was so well written and I was continually pulled in every time I picked it up again. There weren't those rambling endless description pages that just make you want to skip to the next page of dialogue.
lousquared More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. I did not want it to end. Loved the compassion of the characters, and how they all leaned upon one another to get through tough times. A story of friendship and the true meaning of what a family is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heartbreaking, bittersweet love story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! Really enjoyed it and will recommend! Not your typical love story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TalleyRoss More than 1 year ago
Yes, you are seeing correctly. I have given a book a 5 star rating. I finished this book yesterday and just keep thinking about it and thinking about it. To say I LOVE this book is an understatement. Starting from page 2 (I was confused by the prologue which I went back and read twice before the end of the book. It made more sense every time I read it.) I was drawn into the story, drawn to the characters, and could not put it down. I woke in the middle of the night thinking...I gotta read more! "The Orphans of Race Point" covers about 25 years of history in the lives of the main characters, Hallet and Gustavo (Hallie and Gus.) Starting with an event that draws them together as 9 year old children, and leading them through romance, tragedy, faith, imprisonment, forgiveness, and ultimately a true and honest ending - although not the one I would have chosen. If I had any complaints about this story it would be the use of some Portuguese that I didn't quite understand. But it wasn't too much to deter me from the story. Most of the words, (I didn't know exactly what some of the food referred to was,) I could figure out the meaning by context. And as for the food - the reader may not know what it is, but you will be convinced it's delicious. All the characters, main and secondary, are well defined with no one being all black or white. Each one has their strengths and their flaws. Each one acts according to the awareness of those qualities. There were moments when I wanted to reach into the books and literally shake Gus....how could he be so naive. But that was part of who he was, and as a reader I had to accept that this would be his behavior given what he had experienced in his life and what he promised to do because of those experiences. Secondary characters still haunt me - one in particular (not saying who because I hate even hints of spoilers.) But I have thought and thought about the motivations of this character and how they must have reacted to other events in the story and I'm left feeling almost sick. There is nothing graphic - it's just speculation about this character.) We hear from several different points of view within the story. At first I wasn't sure I liked an abrupt change in POV about 3/4 through the book. But I understand why Frances chose to go that route and ended up really liking the character. (I guess she becomes a third main character - name is Mila.) The plot line is a roller coaster. I cheered. I cried. I wrung my hands. I cheered again. I applaud the idea that a person's search for faith can be treated with a realistic and matter-of-fact approach. I applaud that subjects like domestic abuse can be addressed in a similar manner. Nothing was glorified, and characters were not vilified because of their weaknesses or glorified because of their goodness. Consequences of behavior drive this story and no one is exempt. There is some offensive language in the book, but it was so in character and not at all gratuitous that I had no trouble with it. There are also scenes of intimacy, but very much of the fade to black sort. I highly, highly recommend this book. It is well written, well conceived, and will leave you thinking long after you are done. Well done, Patry Frances!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although you may love someone so much they consume your whole life there are other kinds of love that consume also. Very interesting example of different kinds of love not accepted by the three main characters. I give this book a ten.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In spite of all the darkness the light of love prevails. Gripping read. The characters will stay with me for a long time. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so good it rates right up there with some of the best books I have ever read. Treat yourself to a great story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Katie3 More than 1 year ago
Well written story. There were some parts that dragged a little, but for the most part I had a difficult time putting it down.