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THE CONCRETE: Set on the gritty southeast side of Grand Rapids, Michigan, an impoverished area known for drugs and violence, THE CONCRETE centers around the home of Jackson and Mae Carter, foster parents of two boys―Isaac, who is white, and Miles, who is black―who share dark and intersecting histories that neither one is aware of. As the boys try to escape the grim reality of the violent streets―i.e. “the concrete”―in different ways―Isaac through basketball, Miles though music―the novel shifts back and forth in time, in the process revealing the story of an entangled community plagued by trauma and death, trying to confront the ghosts of its past, and seize a better life.
THRIFT STORE COATS: Brooks Rexroat’s collection transports readers to the postindustrial Midwest and explores the lives of those living on its quiet edge. Interwoven with themes of love, lineage, poverty, and survival, the characters in these stories grapple with the idea of identity — not only of where they fit into the world, but of how their origins impact their place in the future.
The collection’s titular story focuses on a couple’s navigation of poverty after the recession leaves each of them suddenly unemployed. In “Waiting Out the Apocalypse,” characters from all walks of life are forced into action by that which is out of their control: the decisions of local lawmakers, and the devastating effects of a hurricane’s landfall. “Five Meals in Paris” explores themes of solitude and circumstance by following a factory worker from Ohio as he fulfills his lifelong dream of traveling to Paris, France.