Set in the summer of 1979, when America was running out of gas, The Lines tells the story of a family of four—the mother, the father, the girl, and the boy—in the first months of a marital separation. Through alternating perspectives, we follow the family as they explore new territory, new living arrangements, and new complications. The mother returns to school. The father moves into an apartment. The girl squares off with her mother, while the boy struggles to make sense of the world. The Lines explores the way we are all tied to one another, and how all experience offers the possibility of love and connection as much as loss and change.
“A darkly cutting investigation of dysfunction in which the kids, more often than not, are way sharper than the parents.”—Kirkus starred review
“Varallo’s attention to the music in the spare, lyrical voices of his characters is enough to put this novel on your must-read list. What he manages to create in the story of divorce in an ordinary family is a tale about grief, alienation, and ultimately compassion itself. Riveting.”—Stephanie Powell Watts, author, No One is Coming to Save Us
“In The Lines, a family reckons with divorce against the backdrop of the fuel crisis of the 1970s. Anthony Varallo renders this story vividly and tenderly and with great nuance. The Lines is moving and elegiac—a delight to read.”—Nathan Englander, author, kaddish.com
“An intimate, often humorous, and phenomenally insightful novel about the way children experience separation and divorce. Anthony Varallo’s The Lines is one of the most moving portraits of a broken family I’ve read since Judith Guest’s Ordinary People.”—Patrick Ryan, author, The Dream Life of Astronauts
“With charming language, familiar circumstances, and a taut narrative, this book evokes that point in time when every child suddenly realizes the adults around them don’t really know what they’re doing. That is the world we inherit, the world Varallo permits us to turn over in our hands, landmarked with curious relics of Americana wholly worth the gaze.”—Venita Blackburn, author, Black Jesus and Other Superheroes
“I was dizzy when I put down this book, having been transported so convincingly to the kind of life we lived before the internet, before cell phones—a time when lovers and family members floated outside our immediate grasp, when we sometimes fumbled to reach them. And yet there is something timeless here, too. The territory this family navigates—loneliness, broken hearts, the shifting allegiances between siblings and parents, all of it set against the backdrop of an unsettled political era—resonates powerfully with our own.”—Christie Hodgen, author, Elegies for the Brokenhearted
“An erudite, insightful, multilayered and compelling novel from first page to last, The Lines is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections.”—Midwest Book Review