A FINALIST FOR THE PEN/FAULKNER AWARD From award-winning author Willy Vlautin, comes this moving novel about a young ranch hand who goes on a quest to become a champion boxer to prove his worth.
Horace Hopper is a half-Paiute, half-Irish ranch hand who wants to be somebody. He’s spent most of his life on the ranch of his kindly guardians, Mr. and Mrs. Reese, herding sheep alone in the mountains. But while the Reeses treat him like a son, Horace can’t shake the shame he feels from being abandoned by his parents. He decides to leave the only loving home he’s known to prove his worth by training to become a boxer.
Mr. Reese is holding on to a way of life that is no longer sustainable. He’s a seventy-two-year-old rancher with a bad back. He’s not sure how he’ll keep things going without Horace but he knows the boy must find his own way.
Coming down from the mountains of Nevada to the unforgiving desert heat of Tucson, Horace finds a trainer and begins to get fights. His journey to become a champion brings him to boxing rings of Mexico and finally, to the seedy streets of Las Vegas, where Horace learns he can’t change who he is or outrun his destiny.
Willy Vlautin writes from America’s soul, chronicling the lives of those who are downtrodden and forgotten with profound tenderness. Don’t Skip Out on Me is a beautiful, wrenching story about one man’s search for identity and belonging that will make you consider those around you differently.
In this powerful novel, Vlautin (The Free) writes about characters whose big dreams and plans are often stunted by fate and circumstance, but who've managed to find a way to push through, bruised but with hard-won wisdom. Young Horace Hopper is half-Irish, half-Paiute Indian, and he has spent most of his life as a ranch hand. While herding sheep in the stark, isolated mountains near Tonopah, Nev., Hopper listens to heavy metal music and struggles with the shame of being abandoned by his parents. Hopper's guardian, the aging rancher Eldon Reese, suffers crippling back pain and faces an uncertain future as his way of life becomes less and less tenable. Reese and his wife love Hopper dearly and consider him a son, but the young man soon leaves for Tucson to pursue his dream of becoming a professional boxer. Hopper, now calling himself "Hector Hidalgo," finds a washed-up trainer and manages to get some fights throughout the Southwest and Mexico. A series of injuries, however, soon threaten to derail his career before it's really off the ground. In this excellent novel, Vlautin's reverence for the land recalls writers such as Jim Harrison and John Steinbeck.