NOMINATED FOR THE EDGAR AWARD FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL
Vivian is a cosmopolitan Taiwanese-American tourist who often escapes her busy life in London through adventure and travel. Johnny is a 15-year-old Irish teenager, living a neglected life on the margins of society. He has grown up in a family where crime is customary, violence is a necessity, and everything--and anyone--can be yours for the taking.
As Vivian looks to find her calling professionally, she delights in exploring foreign countries, rolling hillsides, and new cultures. And as a young, single woman, she has grown used to experiencing life on her own. But all of that changes when, on one bright spring afternoon in West Belfast, Vivian's path collides with Johnny and culminates in a horrifying act of violence.
In the aftermath of the incident, both Johnny and Vivian are forced to confront the chain of events that led to the attack. Vivian must struggle to recapture the woman that she was and the woman she aspired to be, while dealing with a culture and judicial system that treats assault victims as less than human. Johnny, meanwhile, flees to the sanctity of his transitory Irish clan. But when he is finally brought to reckon for his crimes, Vivian learns that justice is not always as swift or as fair as she would hope. Inspired by true events, DARK CHAPTER is both a literary masterpiece and a riveting novel of suspense about of the dark chapters and chance encounters that can irrevocably determine the shape of our lives.
Taiwanese-American Vivian Tan, the heroine of Li's gripping debut, has moved to London to work as a film producer. While attending a conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland, she embarks on a hike one afternoon in the city's Glen Forest Park. On a trail, Vivian encounters a teenage boy, Johnny Sweeney, who was born into poverty and squalor and grew up watching his father physically abuse his mother. At first, Johnny is friendly, but he later attacks Vivian, beating and raping her. After the assault, a distraught Vivian calls a friend, who contacts the local police, initiating a dehumanizing process that grinds on unremittingly right through to Johnny's trial. Back in London, suffering from PTSD and agoraphobia, Vivian takes leave from her job. Meanwhile, Johnny fails to take responsibility for his crime. The narration alternates between Vivian's and Johnny's points of view, though at times whose story is being told is unclear. Still, Li does a fine job exploring how one incident can change the course of a life in this astute psychological study.)