The Long Division
Derek Nikitas
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Buy *The Long Division* by Derek Nikitas online

The Long Division
Derek Nikitas
320 pages
October 2009
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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With a momentís impulsive action, a drama begins that will change the lives of seemingly random people, from Atlanta to Philadelphia to New York, drawing them into a vortex of chaos and tragedy, the mistakes of a lifetime colliding in a moment of well-intentioned bravado.

Jodie Larkin grabs a handful of cash while cleaning an upscale residence, the first step on the road toward a confrontation years in the making. After stealing a car, Jodieís fate is cast as she drives toward her goal: the son she relinquished fifteen years ago, who has found her on the Internet and written an email.

At the same time, a deputy in Weymouth, New York, takes a bribe and looks the other way, thinking to do a broken family a favor when his own is in great distress. The result is a shootout and the death of two siblings, a third youth, Wynn Johnston, out of his league but looking for revenge. Thus begins a tale of misplaced intentions and false hopes, the hapless characters propelled toward a shattering conclusion.

Wynn is a student of mathematics who makes the mistake of loving a childhood sweetheart turned drug addict, violence her passage to whatever lies beyond life. Emotions unleashed, Wynn is caught up in a world that has no mercy for the innocent or the foolish, a world of drugs and violence, humanity reduced to profit. Out of place, out of mind, Wynn staggers into a nightmare that will come full circle on the frozen lawn of a suburban home, where the other characters meets their own fates and the years drop away in a moment of clarity.

Deputy Sam Hartwick pays for his indiscretions, recent and past, career jeopardized by a foolish decision, his thoughts ever on his home and family. While Sam seeks to right his mistake, he becomes trapped in a web of his own making. Meanwhile, fate has conspired - through Jodie and her runaway son - to deliver the past to his doorstep in a denouement that leaves the participants reeling, an out-of-control confrontation with terrible consequences.

There is a certain beautiful symmetry to Nikitasís evolving story, past deeds demanding payment in a grotesque contretemps where the consequences of selfish actions are laid bare and immutable. This is sophisticated writing, a seemingly scattered series of events brought together in a final moment.

From the cheap, filthy trailer where bullets fly and a pair of siblings meet their end to the aching confusion of a housecleaner who impulsively sets all in motion in her quest to see her son to the generous heart of a cancer-stricken woman whose family is in danger, the icy the New York terrain is nowhere near as cold as the face of truth.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2009

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