A fearless debut novel of resilience, transcendence, and the elusive promise of justice.
Growing up in suburban New York, Dylan lived through the unfathomable: three years as a victim of sex trafficking at the hands of Vincent, a troubled young man who promised to marry Dylan when he turned eighteen. Years later—long after a police investigation that went nowhere, and after the statute of limitations for the crimes perpetrated against him have run out—the long shadow of Dylan’s trauma still looms over the fragile life in the city he’s managed to build with his fiancé, Moans, who knows little of Dylan’s past. His continued existence depends upon an all-important mantra: To survive, you live through it, but never look back.
Then a groundbreaking new law—the Child Victims Act—opens a new way foreword: a one-year window during which Dylan can sue his abusers. But for someone who was trafficked as a child, does money represent justice—does his pain have a price? As Dylan is forced to look back at what happened to him and try to make sense of his past, he begins to explore a drug and sex-fueled world of bathhouses, clubs, and strangers’ apartments, only to emerge, barely alive, with a new clarity of purpose: a righteous determination to gaze, unflinching, upon the brutal men whose faces have haunted him for a decade, and to extract justice on his own terms.
By turns harrowing, lyrical, and beautiful, Hertz’s debut offers a startling glimpse at the unraveling of trauma—and the light that peeks, faintly, and often in surprising ways, from the other side of the window.
A young gay man begins to reckon with his adolescent trauma in debut novelist Hertz's scorching portrait of rage and recovery. Dylan, 26, lives in New York City, where he's about to start graduate school and is engaged to his boyfriend, Moans. But the thing looming largest in Dylan's mind is the recent passage of the Child Victims Act, which grants sexual assault victims a one-year window to file a civil suit against their attackers in cases where the statute of limitations has already passed. When Dylan was 14 and growing up in a suburb outside the city, he met 19-year-old Vincent, who, after starting a violent sexual relationship with Dylan and introducing him to crystal meth, made and sold child pornography of him, in addition to pimping him out to other men in the area. It's a past that Dylan struggles to disclose to his friends and to Moans, even with the help of his therapist, Matan. He also has a hard time finding a willing lawyer, given the scant physical evidence, which prompts him in the third act to risk tracking down one of his rapists. The prose is remarkable, alternating from lush sensuality to unsparing brutality to quick cutting asides (Dylan describes Matan, a pale graying man, as an "early dinner, Lincoln Center type of gay"). This marks the arrival of a vital new talent.