From the acclaimed and award-winning author of Anywhere But Here and My Hollywood, a powerful new novel about a young boy’s quest to uncover the mysteries of his unraveling family. What he discovers turns out to be what he least wants to know: the inner workings of his parents’ lives. And even then he can’t stop searching.
Miles Adler-Hart starts eavesdropping to find out what his mother is planning for his life. When he learns instead that his parents are separating, his investigation deepens, and he enlists his best friend, Hector, to help. Both boys are in thrall to Miles’s unsuspecting mother, Irene, who is “pretty for a mathematician.” They rifle through her dresser drawers, bug her telephone lines, and strip-mine her computer, only to find that all clues lead them to her bedroom, and put them on the trail of a mysterious stranger from Washington, D.C.
Their amateur detective work starts innocently but quickly takes them to the far reaches of adult privacy as they acquire knowledge that will affect the family’s well-being, prosperity, and sanity. Burdened with this powerful information, the boys struggle to deal with the existence of evil and concoct modes of revenge on their villains that are both hilarious and naïve. Eventually, haltingly, they learn to offer animal comfort to those harmed and to create an imaginative path to their own salvation.
Casebook brilliantly reveals an American family both coming apart at the seams and, simultaneously, miraculously reconstituting itself to sustain its members through their ultimate trial. Mona Simpson, once again, demonstrates her stunning mastery, giving us a boy hero for our times whose story remains with us long after the novel is over.
About the Author
Mona Simpson is the author of Anywhere But Here, The Lost Father, A Regular Guy, Off Keck Road, and My Hollywood. Off Keck Road won the Heartland Prize from the Chicago Tribune and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. She has received a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim grant, a Lila Wallace Readers Digest Writers’ Award, and, recently, a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Simpson is on the faculty at UCLA and also teaches at Bard College.
Praise for Casebook…
“A heart-breaker. . . . [Has] enormous emotional power. . . . Simpson’s story unfolds with magnetic force.” —The Boston Globe
“Lovely. . . . Hit[s] just the right notes of charm, humor, satire, sincerity. . . . Casebook is about a mother’s legacy to her son—important life lessons, well learned.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Captivating. . . . Lyrically capture[s] the time between childhood and adulthood, as fleeting and delicate as the golden-hour light that filmmakers chase.” —The Washington Post
“Simpson’s beautifully crafted novel shows us a reconfigured California family through the eyes of a smart, funny adolescent longing to keep hope alive.” —People
“Singular and haunting. . . . Filled with the quirky and succinct descriptions for which Simpson’s celebrated.” —NPR
“[A] wonderful novel. . . . A funny and sad drama about intimacies, deception and growing up.” —The Guardian (London)
“Simpson’s sixth novel is full of insight, even as it showcases her deft touch with character creation.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“Adult relationships are the true mystery here. Simpson manipulates the tropes of suspense fiction astutely, and the touches of noir are delicate.” —The New Yorker
“A hybrid of Harriet the Spy and Chandler’s Phillip Marlow books.” —Los Angeles Times
“Deftly tracks the unraveling of a family through the eyes of a child and then young teenager. . . . The childlike simplicity of Simpson’s prose juxtaposes touchingly with the mature themes with which she’s dealing.” —The Huffington Post
“Displays Simpson’s signature impressionism. . . . Charming, sure-footed and as engaging as ever.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Just as in Anywhere But Here, Simpson’s central, complicated relationship of parent and child is both a motif and a window into bared hearts. . . . Miles is an extraordinary character—exceptionally intuitive, observant, feeling.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
“Remarkable. . . . Simpson effortlessly snares readers inside a full, intimate world. . . . Simpson allows readers to relish the innocence of childhood and the intense yearning to discover the secrets of life.” —The Miami Herald
“Simpson once again proves herself a master.” —The New York Journal of Books
“Extraordinary. . . . Bracingly astute. . . . Brisk, beautifully modulated writing. . . . [Simpson] create[s] real kids in all their uniqueness and aching vulnerability.” —The Toronto Star
“A classic coming-of-age novel, a beautifully written example of the genre. . . . A word of warning: this is not a book to finish in a public space. Save the final few pages for private reading. This family romance deserves your undivided, teary attention.” —PopMatters