And Their Children After Them

Other Pr. Apr. 2020. 416p. ISBN 9781892746771. pap. $17.99.
It is the 1990s in a small town where the warehouses and blast-furnace foundries have closed, leaving little economic security or opportunity for the future. Sounds like the Rust Belt of America, right? But in this case it is a parallel universe in the hills of eastern France. The town’s burnt-out, disillusioned adults now hope for any work at all. If they can land two jobs, perhaps they will have enough money to get by, and movies and local bars are their primary means of escape. For their children after them, particularly the teenagers, life definitely seems bleak, with drugs and sex the preferred ways of dealing with the endless hours of a long, hot summer. Of course, they can also steal away to a local lake that attracts visitors in the summer. As Anthony and his cousin discover over the course of four summers, these vacationers bring with them a little money and a lot of teenage sexual experience to share.
VERDICT Winner of France’s Prix Goncourt, Mathieu’s English debut focuses on coming-of-age angst while also speaking volumes for the disenfranchised, who rarely have a voice in their country’s conversation.
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