The Best People in the World by Justin Tussing; Clear Water by Will Ashon; Overexposure by Hugo Rifkind; Ancestor Stones by Aminatta Forna; In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar - review by Olivia Cole

Olivia Cole

Olivia Cole Enjoys Five First Novels

  • Justin Tussing, 
  • Will Ashon, 
  • Hugo Rifkind, 
  • Aminatta Forna, 
  • Hisham Matar

The Best People in the World, by Justin Tussing, is a love story in which running away from life, in the tradition of the best road trips, is meant to lead straight to what matters most. It is 1972 in Ohio; doubting Thomas doesn’t know what anarchy means, has never been drunk, left school or lied but is in love with Alice – his 25-year-old high-school history teacher. A tawdry scenario, it's an unlikely premise for what turns out to be a grubbily beautiful novel. Alice and Thomas set off ‘alone with their happiness’, his family’s pain in their wake. Across America, in New York and Vermont, dropping out can rarely have made such an elegant arc. Sad, true, knowing but never cynical, once done it sent me straight back to the start.

‘There was something inside us that allowed us to make impossible decisions. We were flesh spread thinly over a framework of desire.’ Alice is appalled to find that her boyish lover is still growing. The most clever aspect of Tussing's spectacular hijack of head and heart is the faux-naïf

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