I love the dust jacket for The Year That Follows (Knopf). Look at it, right over there. A beauty, isn’t it? Really made me want to read the book.

And, oh, how I loved the first chapter. Kyle, a young New York City professional, is late for a morning meeting. At the World Trade Center. On September 11. He’s in the elevator when the plane hits. And the moment it happens is one of the most thrilling pieces of fiction I’ve read in a long time. It’s just a few lines, but when I’d read them I actually thought: “Holy crap.” Scott Lasser has a terrific writing style: crisp, knowing, even cunning. He knows how to set up a scene, what to reveal, and what not to. Love that.

After Kyle’s death, his sister, Cat, who lives in Detroit with a son of her own, decides she needs to find Kyle’s son. Though Kyle and the child’s mother weren’t together when he died, Cat feels the need to fashion a connection with his flesh and blood. At the same time, she also wants to reconnect with her father, who lives in California. And she longs to connect with someone in a romantic way.

The book, as you’ve probably surmised, is all about connections. The ones based on blood. The ones forged by law. The ones bound by love. It really is a beautiful little book. And when I finished it, I should have been satisfied, swooning. Instead I was angry. I was at my neighborhood pool when I finished the book, and I almost threw it in.

I was on the ride for all of it. I went with the various connections. I went with Cat to California to see her dad. I went with Cat when she rekindled a relationship with her only serious flame, a high school boyfriend who became a doctor. I went with Cat when she finally found Kyle’s son. I even went with her when she convinced the child’s grandparents to let her have him, raise him, far away from them.

And then Lasser ruined it. Killed the whole thing. I won’t do that for you now, but I will say that there are several ways to end a book. Usually, the best way is to say as little as possible, avoid the nice neat package tied up with string. Better to leave the reader some room to imagine. But Lasser really blows it here. Not only does he give us too much ending, he gives us the worst possible ending. I keep trying to figure out why in the world he would have torpedoed his own book. I keep wondering if I’m missing the point. But I’m sure I’m not. Actually, what I think is that Lasser missed it.

There are books I don’t like, and that’s fine. I don’t expect to like everything. But this book I really loved. I admired it, and I admired Scott Lasser. Until the moment he betrayed me — and worse, until the moment he betrayed the characters he’d so lovingly created. The Year that Follows could have been a sweet book, almost a fairy tale. Damn him.

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1 thought on “Fiction: The Year That Follows by Scott Lasser

  1. I don't know how Tony could possibly say that Lasser betrayed him in "The Year that Follows." Maybe the book is a little deeper than Tony would like it to be. A lot of subtext and subtleties in this book. Cat loses her brother on 9/11 just after seeing him for the first time in ages. He tells her he thinks he has fathered a child. She insists that he step up to the plate and take responsibility. The mother of the child also works in the trade centers. Cut to 9/11 and both mother and father are presumed dead. Cat is at a loss. She loved her brother yet she has her own son to think about. Being a single mom is not easy. She starts the search for the lost baby. Where could it be? How can she find him or her? She begins the journey. Along the way, the journey becomes a journey of her own search for love. Her father is hiding his secret, but she knows what it is. She is angry and hostile, yet still needing to find the way back home. How does one really know what love is? Is there a prerequisite that it must be made of our own blood? Can the man who raised Cat really love her if he wasn't her biological father? The secrets, the lies, the love all come to a head and we learn what real and true love is all about. If you have a short sited vision of love and that it should all be wrapped up in tissue paper at the end and tied with a bow, then this book has too much depth for you. Read it and feel it. YOu will definitely be moved. It will bring tears to your eyes and joy to your heart. It's a circle of life. I think Tony missed that…..

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