Bovim draws on his personal experience as the managing director of a D.C. public relations firm to give Mark a strong, believable voice. He expertly describes the high stakes and pressures of the business, magnified by the speed at which success can be diminished by poor decision-making and missed opportunities. The depictions of the cut-throat nature of the public relations world are chillingly realistic, illuminating the dark side of fame and fortune.
As the layers of Mark’s personality slowly peel back, Bovim shows how the perfect image he projects to the world is fractured. The globetrotting persona, complete with expensive hotels and world-class restaurants, is one that readers will envy until they see beneath Mark’s exterior and the pain he endures from the loss of his wife and his inability to bond with his son. Bovim’s detailed descriptions of Monica's paintings are compelling on their own and show the depths of Mark’s character and his connection to his wife’s profession. Readers with a taste for character-driven family dramas will be drawn to this narrative about the ruinous weight of denial and grief.
Takeaway: This wrenching, immersive novel will appeal to fans of character-driven dramas that reveal the hidden sorrows of people leading seemingly perfect lives.
Great for fans of David Baldacci’s The Whole Truth, Corban Addison’s The Tears of Dark Water.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B
This novel about pain and a search for redemption centers on a power broker in Washington, D.C.
It’s 2016, and Mark White, a 40-something widower, is in even worse shape than he realizes, which would surprise many people. He is the founder and CEO of White & Partners, a tremendously successful public relations firm in Washington that has clients all over the world, including in many emerging nations, within high-tech start-ups, and in domestic government entities. For those who need their companies’ reputations burnished or, just as important, salvaged, White & Partners is their best bet, their go-to. But after Mark’s wife, Monica, a very successful artist, was killed in a hit-and-run accident, leaving him with their young son, Colin, the magnate fell into a deep depression. Now he is gulping pills and drinking too much while trying to be a corporate superman. Soon, exhausted and rattled, he breaks down and White & Partners suffers, big time. And on top of this, he knows that he is neglecting Colin, who, not surprising, has trouble coping himself. Will Mark work out a salvation for himself and his boy? Bovim writes very well. Readers see the story through Mark’s eyes, so the narration is a vivid part of it. Mark is a keen student of his surroundings and his own troubled soul, introspective almost to a fault. Here is part of his bitter reverie on San Francisco: “I thought about…the wannabe Beat poets…blocked novelists, failed and miserable, destitute jazz pianists and confused painters who still believed that they were one masterful triptych away from a retrospective at the Pompidou.” He describes his own numb travels (and travails) as continually “traversing the continent on United’s weary fleet.” What drives the engrossing book’s second half, the hunt for redemption portion, is Mark’s affection for his son, a genuine love even if it is saturated with guilt. Readers will be fervently hoping for the hero to triumph, silently cheering him on. Colin is preternaturally wise as father and son try to work together to save themselves.
A family tale for modern times—detailed, thorough, and thoughtful—that rings true throughout.