I received an arc from Simon & Schuster of Stephen Markley’s debut, “Ohio” (thanks, S&S!). The first few pages were a bit slow for me, but once I became accustomed to the style, I couldn’t put it down.
I suspect it will be a while before this book leaves my head. I cannot stop thinking about it. I am not even sure I can properly do it any kind of justice in a few brief words, but here goes: as an Ohioan millennial, the first two-thirds of this book was heartbreakingly relatable to me. The classmates in the Iraq war, the inescapable podunk town. It angered me. It made me depressed. I laughed out loud. It was refreshing, in a way, because I don’t know of many books that cover the aftermath of September 11 for my generation like this.
That being said, all of the characters are of course caricatures, in a way. Markley dwells in the gray area and does so successfully. There is no good guy to cheer for in this book. In most ways, they are all on the losing side fighting against the inevitable. This book is not my usual kind of book. It was heartbreaking, and I couldn’t put it down. I was less than 100 pages into it a week ago and devoured 400 pages over two days to finish it.
It is not for the faint of heart. But if you like suspense, mysteries, or literary fiction, I highly recommend it.