Harper Academic

Raft of Stars

A Novel

by Andrew J. Graff

On Sale: 01/11/2022

Price: $16.99

Raft of Stars

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Raft of Stars

A Novel

by Andrew J. Graff

On Sale: 01/11/2022

Format:

Price: $16.99

About the Book

“A rousing adventure yarn full of danger and heart and humor.” —Richard Russo

An instant classic for fans of Jane Smiley and Kitchens of the Great Midwest: when two hardscrabble young boys think they’ve committed a crime, they flee into the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Will the adults trying to find and protect them reach them before it’s too late?

It’s the summer of 1994 in Claypot, Wisconsin, and the lives of ten-year-old Fischer “Fish” Branson and Dale “Bread” Breadwin are shaped by the two fathers they don’t talk about.

One night, tired of seeing his best friend bruised and terrorized by his no-good dad, Fish takes action. A gunshot rings out and the two boys flee the scene, believing themselves murderers. They head for the woods, where they find their way onto a raft, but the natural terrors of Ironsforge gorge threaten to overwhelm them.

Four adults track them into the forest, each one on a journey of his or her own. Fish’s mother Miranda, a wise woman full of fierce faith; his granddad, Teddy, who knows the woods like the back of his hand; Tiffany, a purple-haired gas station attendant and poet looking for connection; and Sheriff Cal, who’s having doubts about a life in law enforcement.

The adults track the boys toward the novel’s heart-pounding climax on the edge of the gorge and a conclusion that beautifully makes manifest the grace these characters find in the wilderness and one another. This timeless story of loss, hope, and adventure runs like the river itself amid the vividly rendered landscape of the Upper Midwest.

Critical Praise

“[An] exquisitely crafted novel about two 10-year-old boys on the lam on a river raft. . . .  The art and craft of this narrative, apparent from the first page with its sublime constellations of images, offers brutal beauty, the glinting edge of truth, and the possibility of redemption for the fifth-grade boys, and also for the adults chasing them. Finding their way through the thick, gnarled woods and along the perilous river, both children and adults show they can transcend the thicket of confusion surrounding their personal circumstances and emerge toward more clarity.” - Boston Globe

“Andrew J. Graff’s engrossing, largehearted debut novel, Raft of Stars, is a book with a distinctly Rousseauian vibe. It is the story of what happens when two 10-year-old boys flee into the northern Wisconsin woods and how they, and their various adult pursuers, don’t merely survive, but shed their landlocked inhibitions and become better, bigger versions of themselves. . .Despite brushes with danger and death — roaring rapids, charging bears, loaded rifles, hunger — they don’t turn inward, nor do they turn against one another. No one goes Lord of the Flies. Instead, they do what they haven’t felt free to do in civilization: open up and cry, reveal their regrets and fears and needs.” - The New York Times Book Review

“Outdoorsy tales like this, from Hemingway’s early Michigan stories to James Dickey’s Deliverance on down, typically use woods and waterways as proving grounds for masculinity. But Graff...wants to unravel some of the expectations of the genre. Nature, here, isn’t impressed with masculinity at all, and it’s prepared to smash machismo against its rocks along with anything else. . . Graff writes exquisitely about the wilderness,...[and] recognizes that his main job is to deliver a gripping adventure tale, which the concluding chapters offer plenty of — dangerous rapids leading to life-threatening waterfalls, menacing black bears and coyotes.”  - Washington Post

“The story will beg you to grab the person beside you, tilt the cover toward them, and ask, "Have you read this yet?" It will inevitably gift you a glorious post-book reading haze, a fog following you from room to room, trailed by a story you can't get out of your mind. Raft of Stars is a clarion call to the wild softness in all of us. It is a book to read, and read, and read again." - Country Living

“I had no idea people wrote books like Andrew J. Graff’s Raft of Stars anymorea rousing adventure yarn full of danger and heart and humor and characters worth worrying about. It’s as if, after observing the deplorable state we’re all in right now, the author took it upon himself to raise our collective spirits. Bravo!” - Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls and Chances Are...

“An adventurous tale of misfit characters and a humble riverboat.” - Parade (“A Must-Read Book of Spring”)

“A heartfelt and enjoyable story with a welcome and genuine sense of place.” - Milwaukee Magazine

“The characters are expertly drawn in their shifting relationships . . . Both an engaging adventure and a profound reflection on human bonding, what it means to be a man (and a good one), and the importance of persevering. . . . Highly recommended, whether you want literate thrills or thoughtful, affirming meditation.” - Library Journal (starred review)

“But then I read a book like Raft of Stars, and I am again filled with wonder. Not just at nature–at rivers, forests, and fields–but at my children themselves….That folks such as Andrew Graff write novels like this is, for me, a sign of great hope.” - Front Porch Republic

“Impressive . . . [Graff’s] background as a hunter and a hiker gives him plenty of raw material to make the natural trials faced by Fish and Bread and their trackers realistic and, at times, harrowing. Besides whitewater, there’s violent weather, bears and the uncertainty of who will find the boys, if anyone, and when.” - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780063031913
  • ISBN 10: 0063031914
  • Imprint: Ecco
  • On Sale: 01/11/2022
  • Trimsize: 5.310 in (w) x 8.000 in (h) x 0.680 in (d)
  • Pages: 304
  • List Price: $16.99
  • BISAC1 : FICTION / Literary
  • BISAC2 : FICTION / Coming of Age
  • BISAC3 : FICTION / Small Town & Rural