Award-winning author Bart Yates has established himself as a formidable writer gifted with rare insight, depth, and talent. Now, in an unforgettable new novel, he presents a blistering portrait of a troubled family, of bonds that can be battered but never broken, and of the friendships that can make us whole again.
Hester Parker resides in an elegant Victorian house in the town of Bolton, Illinois. She spends her evenings listening to the lush tones of Mahler and Chopin, drinking sub-par Merlot, and reflecting on a life that has suddenly fallen apart. At seventy-one, Hester is as brilliant and sharp-tongued as ever, capable of inspiring her music students to soaring heights or reducing them to tears with a single comment. But her wit can’t hide the bitterness that comes with loss—the loss of her renowned violinist husband, Arthur Donovan, who left her for another woman, and the loss of her career as a concert pianist after injuring her wrist.
In this home that holds so many memories, Hester and Arthur raised three volatile children—Paul, a talented and neurotic cellist, Caitlin, an accomplished literary professor who inspires both dread and worship among her students, and Jeremy, sweet, spirited, and as musically gifted as his parents. Though Caitlin and Paul still live in Bolton, both have taken Arthur’s side in the divorce and rarely see their mother.
When Hester decides to rent out the attic apartment to Alex, a young college student, she has no idea of the impact he will have on her life and her family. Good-natured and awkward, with secrets of his own, Alex becomes an unlikely confidant and a means of reconnecting with the world outside Hester’s window. But his presence also exposes old memories and grief that Hester has tried to bury. Over the course of one remarkable month, Hester will confront angry accusations, long-hidden jealousies, and the inescapable truth that tore her family apart and might, against all odds, help reconcile them again. And her brief friendship with Alex will leave each with a surprising legacy—acceptance of the past, a seed of comfort in the present, and hope for the future, wherever it may lead. Tender and funny, heartbreaking and wise, The Distance Between Us is a masterful evocation of family and friendship, of the pain that goes hand-in-hand with love, and of the grace and wisdom that remain when heartbreak finally subsides. Friendship with Alex will leave each with a surprising legacy—acceptance of the past, a seed of comfort in the present, and hope for the future, wherever it may lead. Tender and funny, heartbreaking and wise, The Distance Between Us is a masterful evocation of family and friendship, of the pain that goes hand-in-hand with love, and of the grace and wisdom that remain when heartbreak finally subsides.
“Absorbing. Brims with quiet intensity.” Publishers Weekly
“I’m going to go ahead and call it...this book has a sure place on my list of the best books of the year. This is the story of a family at their very worst...and a book with writing at its very best. Alternately funny and unbearably sad, it is ultimately redemptive.” A’n’E Vibe
“Brilliantly written and funny as hell.” Edge Boston
“The Distance Between Us is Bart Yates’ masterpiece (so far), and one of the best books of 2008.” AfterElton.com
“A powerful novel about family dysfunction that transcends ”gay” to achieve emotional universality.” Richard LaBonte, Book Marks
“Yates plays the language as well as his musical genius characters play their instruments. The Distance Between Us is a remarkable story.” The Gazette