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March 2017 Indie Next List
“This heartfelt and compelling novel from A Good American author Alex George is a story of friendship, loss, and how we deal with grief, a story about how a single friendship can change us forever. Yet again, George has developed beautiful, layered characters and you will quickly fall in love with Nathan, Robert, and Liam in blustery seaside Maine in the 1970s. You will hear the excitement each hot, blistering summer of children and families visiting the amusement park owned by Robert's family. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will grieve, but you will not be disappointed.”
— Amanda Zirn (W), Bethany Beach Books, Bethany Beach, DE
From the author of the “lyrical and compelling” (USA Today) novel A Good American comes a powerful story of two friends and the unintended consequences of friendship, loss, and hope.
For Robert Carter, life in his coastal Maine hometown is comfortably predictable. But in 1976, on his first day of eighth grade, he meets Nathan Tilly, who changes everything. Nathan is confident, fearless, impetuous—and fascinated by kites and flying. Robert and Nathan’s budding friendship is forged in the crucible of two family tragedies, and as the boys struggle to come to terms with loss, they take summer jobs at the local rundown amusement park. It’s there that Nathan’s boundless capacity for optimism threatens to overwhelm them both, and where they learn some harsh truths about family, desire, and revenge.
Unforgettable and heart-breaking, Setting Free the Kites is a poignant and moving exploration of the pain, joy, and glories of young friendship.
About the Author
The author of A Good American, Alex George is an Englishman who lives, works, and writes in the middle of America. He studied law at Oxford University and worked for eight years as a corporate lawyer in London and Paris before moving to the United States. He lives in Missouri with his family.
“A warm, relatable—at times heartbreakingly so—story of two boys becoming men in 1970s Maine... George authentically relays the dynamic, difficult nature of families.”
—Columbia Daily Tribune
“George’s effortless and beautiful prose flows off of the page to construct a timeless narrative of love, loss, kinship and how the connections we make will almost always find a way to affect us for the rest of our lives.”
“George combines wit, sorrow and nostalgia into a story readers young and old will not forget... heartbreaking and real.”
“Setting Free the Kites is a serious but breezy work, a sad but delightful story, and just right for thumbing through at the beach this summer.”
—Down East Magazine
“A mesmerizing and eloquent read... This is a book that takes hold of your life, so much that you forget the individuals are fictional and assume them as characters in your everyday life... Highly, highly recommended.”
“Heart-rending... A beautifully told, nostalgic tale about friendship, George brings to life true, strongly independent characters... An effecting, emotional read. So many excellently crafted details are packed into its pages, poignantly capturing the rapid change of emotions during adolescence”
—Portland Press Herald
“A dandy book.”
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A moving novel of friendship, family, loss and reconcilation... an emotionally resonant novel”
“This generous, poignant novel addresses family, friendship, and dealing with catastrophic loss... a beautifully wrought work for fans of literary fiction and coming-of-age novels.”
“[A] touching story . . . George is masterly in his rendition of Maine landscapes and the emotional swings of adolescence.”
— Publishers Weekly
“A lovely meditation on young friendship and the harsh realities of growing up.”
“It's sort of early to be carving titles into the marble ‘Best of 2017’ lists already, but it would be a surprise if I didn't end the year as impressed and moved by this novel as I am right now… With echoes of Stephen King's ‘Joyland’ and ‘The Body’ as well as John Knowles' A Separate Peace, Setting Free the Kites features unforgettable characters and a nice little twist.”
— New London Day
“George’s writing has tremendous voice, one that brings these adolescent boys to life as few others do.”
— Seattle Book Mama
“Replete with soaring emotion. Setting Free the Kites is a coming-of-age novel driven by the forces of hope. Alex George skillfully proves that the tethers of a painful past can be cut, freeing us to rise above our circumstances if only we have fearless hearts.”
— SARAH McCOY, New York Times and international bestselling author of The Mapmaker's Children
“I think I fell a little in love with Alex George's Setting Free the Kites when I heard the beautiful title. Luckily, the book itself—colorful, poignant, winning and touching—does not disappoint and seduces like a spring breeze. Mr. George, please consider me one of your new and ardent admirers.”
— GEORGE HODGMAN, author of Bettyville
“In Setting Free the Kites, Alex George has written a captivating, lyrical novel with scenes so crisp and moving you will find yourself holding your breath as page by page he renders the profundity of childhood, the primality of longing, and breaks your heart. It’s an absorbing novel, with place and people crafted so fully they become real and important to the reader. A full and beautiful book.”
— MEGAN MAYHEW BERGMAN, author of Almost Famous Women
“Alex George’s brilliant new novel explores a life-changing boyhood friendship in the ‘70s, the way first love can whack you out of balance, the terror of an ill child and the way memories can haunt or free you. So exquisitely written, I was underlining sentences, and so engrossing, I read through the night. Funny, devastating and so human and humane, the novel is filled with characters so alive and complex, that I ached to continue on in their lives. But most important of all is this: Loss, George says, can destroy us, but it can also create us, giving possibility rapturous flight.”
— CAROLINE LEAVITT, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You
“A profoundly moving, charming, heart-breaking, heart-lifting portrait of childhood, parenthood, and friendship. I couldn’t love it more. With a down-on-its-heels amusement park as the perfect backdrop, Setting Free the Kites is both elegiac and comical, a celebration of adolescent stumbling-around. This book is a treasure.”
— TIMOTHY SCHAFFERT, author of The Swan Gondola
“Can it be that John Irving’s heir is a British import, writing in the Midwest? Setting Free the Kites is as American as Garp, as heartbreaking as Owen Meany, and as hilarious as Hotel New Hampshire. Alex George proves himself a master storyteller, and with a magic all his own he has tied these elements together behind an unforgettable tale. All the pain, the joy, the absurdity of an American childhood is here, the sting of marriage, the bonds of brotherhood, brilliantly rendered in a book you will want to recommend to everyone. Family is a language we can barely understand ourselves, and this story is a brave and beautiful translation.”
— LYDIA NETZER, author of Shine Shine Shine