"A unique novel of smalltown America that begins with an explosion so wonderfully described you won't be able to put the book down. Karen Osborn combines considerable literary gifts with a storyteller's skills to produce the unforgettable Centerville."
Anita Shreve, author of Resistance, The Weight of Water, and Rescue
“It’s the summer of 1967; the news is awash with race riots and the escalating war in Vietnam. In the aftermath of a brutal and premeditated act of violence, the residents of a somnolent American town find themselves in a new world full of menace and fear. Karen Osborn’s deeply affecting novel Centerville keeps the incomprehensibility of evil always in focus, as her characters - young, old, brave, cowardly, driven by doubt, and committed to faith - struggle to find a way back to the innocence they once took for granted. In this subtle, beautifully written novel, the reader can almost hear the gates of paradise slamming closed on the American dream.”
Valerie Martin is the author of nine novels, including Trespass, Mary Reilly, Italian Fever, and Property, three collections of short fiction, and a biography of St. Francis of Assisi, titled Salvation.
"Most writers would stumble over the top describing a blast that literally explodes the personality of a small town. In the hands of a master of craft, like Karen Osborn, devastation is rendered with devastating restraint. You may try to forget Centerville, but you never will."
Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean
"As with In Cold Blood or The Sweet Heareafter, Karen Osborn's beautifully written Centerville uses a single, horrific, small-town act of violence to dissect the values and morals of an entire culturea culture that is at once violent and brutal, materialistic and superficial, yet capable of moments of heroism, compassion, and redemption. When a novel seems as if its subject isn't past at all but rather pulled right from America's latest cycle of mass murder and senseless carnage, and when that novel does it with Osborn's brilliant prose and deep insight into the dark alleys of our twisted nature, then we can rejoice that perhaps there’s still a chance, albeit a small one, for the human race."
Michael White, author of Beautiful Assassin and Soul Catcher
Osborn (Patchwork; River Road) opens her novel in a small, quaint, Jan Karon-style town in 1967, then has a vengeful ex-husband set off a bomb in the drugstore where his former wife works. Centerville is quickly transformed into a devastated community of residents trying to understand how this could have happened and figure out how to put their lives back together. The story is told from the points of view of four survivors: the reverend who married the murderer and his wife years ago; his teenage daughter, who almost entered the drugstore at the time of the disaster; a victim's widow, who now has three children to raise on her own; and a police officer who was at the scene of the tragedy. VERDICT Lovers of realistic fiction will be pulled into this tiny town to experience its loss and confusion along with its residents. Osborn portrays the emotions surrounding this destructive event in a heartfelt and vivid style, while leaving room for the hope of regrowth and recovery.—Katie Wernz, Kent State Univ. Lib., OH