Three months after a car crash leaves him paralysed from the waist down, Jarred, the protagonist of The Coward and the autofictional alter ego of Jarred McGinnis, finds himself discharged from hospital without warning and with no one to call on but his estranged father, Jack. Having run away from Jack a decade before, Jarred is now forced to face their difficult past head-on. Despite the grief, fights and addiction that broke their relationship, the sense of humour they share and the care they have for each other ignite an unexpected friendship.
Jarred is an endearing narrator, cataloguing the recklessness and self-destructiveness of his past in an irreverent, brutally honest voice. As the chapters alternate between then and now, the author draws upon his own experience of life-changing injury to show his protagonist slowly adjusting to his new wheelchair-bound existence. The Coward