The Assembler of Parts

Raoul Wientzen, Author
Raoul Wientzen. Skyhorse/Arcade (Norton, dist.), $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-61145-891-6
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-62872-509-4
Ebook - 357 pages - 978-1-62872-292-5
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This debut is narrated by Jess Jackson, an 8-year-old girl who was born with Hilgar syndrome, a condition that causes a constellation of abnormalities including missing bones and hearing problems. She was also born with a blood vessel defect, which leads to her premature death, a death that more careful doctoring might have prevented. Medical malpractice lawyers gunning for millions try to convince her parents to sell their most previous memories of their thriving daughter by asking them to testify that she was so handicapped that she seemed "barely to break the threshold of humanness." Her mother and father are then forced to ask what the life of a crippled child amounted to. The novel's great oddity is that Jess speaks to the reader from the afterlife, as she is watching tapes from her past in the presence of a God-like figure. This does little to take away from Wientzen's beautiful answer to the question of life's worth: it is our imperfections that allow us to connect with, forgive, and bring joy to others. Agent: Sorche Fairbank, Fairbank Literary Representation. (Sept.)
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