The Inverted Forest by John Dalton
This “gripping, tender, and at times disturbing tale” (Entertainment Weekly) of unlikely devotion and sudden violence in an isolated Midwestern summer camp is a compelling follow up to the award-winning Heaven’s Lake.
From the prizewinning author of Heaven Lake comes an extraordinary story of unlikely devotion and sudden crisis in an isolated summer camp.
Late on a warm summer night in rural Missouri, an elderly camp director hears a squeal of female laughter and goes to investigate. At the camp swimming pool he comes upon a bewildering scene: his counselors stripped naked and engaged in a provocative celebration. The first camp session is set to start in two days. He fires them all. As a result, new counselors must be hired and brought to Kindermann Forest Summer Camp.
One of them is Wyatt Huddy, a genetically disfigured young man who has been living in a Salvation Army facility. Gentle and diligent, Wyatt suffers a deep anxiety that his intelligence might be subnormal. But while Wyatt is not worldly, he is also not an innocent. He has escaped a punishing home life with a reclusive and violent older sister. Along with the other new counselors, Wyatt arrives expecting to care for children. To their astonishment, they learn that they will be responsible for 104 severely developmentally disabled adults, all of them wards of the state. For Wyatt it is a dilemma that turns his world inside out. Physically, he is indistinguishable from the campers he cares for. Inwardly, he would like to believe he is not of their tribe. Fortunately for Wyatt, there is a young woman on staff who understands his predicament better than he might have hoped.
The Inverted Forest is filled with yearning, desire, lust, banked hope, and unexpected devotion. This remarkable novel confirms John Dalton’s rising prominence as a major American novelist.