Starred Review of Tumbledown in Booklist
Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof
Boswell, Robert (Author) Aug 2013. 448 p. Graywolf, hardcover, $26. (9781555976491).
James Candler is a therapist at a private rehabilitation center for people “with physical, mental, emotional, or psychological challenges,” and he himself is about to become “unhinged.” Drawn to therapy by the painful questions raised by the tragically short life of his artistic, autistic brother, James is now tumbling down into chaos, saddled with a huge house he can’t afford, recklessly driving a ridiculously expensive car, and engaged to a virtual stranger. He is also being stalked by a woman who changed her name, appearance, and life after one counseling session with him, and he’s about to be betrayed by his lifelong friend. This alone is grounds for a powerful tale. But celebrated novelist and short story writer Boswell (Century’s Son, 2002) goes further, empathically inhabiting the hampered minds of various rehab clients. Beautiful, heartbreakingly vulnerable Karly’s extremely low IQ is belied by her exceptional aptitude for kindness and happiness. Handsome and promising Mick has been derailed by schizophrenia. Maura, “furious, suicidal, often stoned,” is also astute and hilarious. Within a suspenseful plot spiked with love triangles and flashbacks, Boswell renders each complex psyche and scene with magnificent precision and penetrating vision, fine-tuning our definitions of disorder and healing and deepening our perception of what it is to be normal, what it is to be human.
— Donna Seaman