In the small town of North River, every day that goes by bleeds into the next. Poverty begets hopelessness, hopelessness breeds violence, violence causes despair. The only way to change fate, a minister tells his son, is to leave.
The minister’s son, Jake MacNeil, chooses to ignore his father’s advice. Only when he realizes what has become of his life — working a grueling dead-end job, living with a drunk, friends with a murderer — does he decide to make something of himself. But nothing comes without a cost: in choosing freedom, Jake abandons his own son, Nathan, to the care of the boy’s abusive mother.
Years later, a reformed Jake comes back for Nathan, to finally set things right. But in North River, everything comes around again; and when a dangerous figure from the past becomes hell-bent on dragging the new Jake “back down where he belongs”, three generations of MacNeil men must come together to pay the full price of hope.
Gritty, unrelenting, yet peppered with Darren Greer’s trademark poignance, Just Beneath My Skin is the work of an author at the height of his game.
About the author
Darren Greer grew up in several towns in Nova Scotia, including Greenfield and Liverpool. He studied literature at the University of King¹s College, Halifax, as well as Carleton University, Ottawa. His first novel, Tyler's Cape, was published in March 2001 to critical acclaim and was on the bestseller list of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. Still Life With June was nominated for the Pearson Readers' Choice Award at The Word On The Street, Toronto, in 2003 and is the Winner of the 2004 ReLit Award. His 2014 novel Just Beneath My Skin is the winner of the 2015 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award and the official selection for One Book Nova Scotia 2015.
- Winner, One Book Nova Scotia
- Short-listed, ReLit Award
- Short-listed, Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award
- Winner, Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award
“Greer brings his muscular prose and clear-eyed perspective to this story about good people trying to make sound choices in the face of bad people who want to get in their way.”
“Its slick, highly readable style makes Just Beneath My Skin easy to read and easy to like, as it propels readers through a gripping story told in short chapters that encourage binge reading.”
“The one book I hoped to see on someone’s short list was Just Beneath My Skin by Nova Scotian author Darren Greer … It’s difficult to discuss the novel’s plot without giving too much away, but I can tell you that while I’ve painted a bleak picture above, Greer’s prose highlights a heart-wrenching beauty in this desperation … By the mid-point you’ll be unable to put this book down.”
Atlantic Books Today
“Just Beneath My Skin is not an easy read, but it acutely captures small-town inertia and desperation. The novel’s intimacy, honesty, and humanity make it impossible to resist. Readers will find themselves cheering for the unlikely father and son duo, and anxious about the circumstances standing between the violence, poverty, and pain of North River and the freedom of a new beginning in Halifax. Greer creates characters with the power to get beneath the reader’s skin and remain lodged in memory.”
Quill and Quire