St. Martin’s Griffin publishing released Marie Marquardt’s new novel, The Radius of Us, on Jan. 17. The novel is an intense story of how other people perceive us compared to how we see ourselves and the healing power of love.
Gretchen survives a violent assault after witnessing a horrible crime. As she tries to find her way back to the life she knew, she feels isolated and alone. Along comes Phoenix, a teen from El Salvador who fled for the border to save his 12-year-old brother from gang violence. He, too, is trying to find his place in the world. The neighbors are afraid of him and he’s losing his connection to his brother, but when Gretchen and Phoenix meet, the whole world falls away. Can they learn to overcome their obstacles and become survivors in a world that seems set against them? Can love truly heal all?
I thought this story was beautifully written, but violent images and almost-sexual encounters place this one in a category for older teens. In real life, Marquardt works with detained immigrants and their families and her expertise shows in her portrayal of Phoenix. Her understanding of the victim complex and how one heals is incredibly true to life. Everyone needs the love of another to get through life, be it family, friend or lover. This book really dives into that need.
The Radius of Us is an excellent contemporary novel for those who enjoy the complexities of life. If you enjoy seeing tragedy turn into extraordinary love or are looking for a diverse read, this is the book for you.