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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”