Laney a skinny, awkward teenager alone in the world thinks she's found a kindred spirit in thirty-five-year-old Delilah.Then the police come to ask Laney questions and she finds herself reconstructing a story of suspense, deceit, and revenge; a story that will haunt her forever. Seven hundred miles away, in Texas, Miss Baby has the hardened heart of a woman who has been used by men in every possible way, yet she is desperate for true love. When she meets a stranger, a man who claims he can t remember his real name or his past but who seems gentle and trusting, Miss Baby thinks she may have finally found someone to love, someone who will protect her from the abusive men who fill her past. But Miss Baby and Laney are connected by a terrible crime, and, bit by bit, the complex web of deceptions and seemingly small misjudgments they ve each helped to create starts to unravel all the way to the shocking, tragic climax.
About the Author
Lee Martin is the Pulitzer Prize Finalist author of The Bright Forever, and three other novels, including Break the Skin. His other books are the novels, River of Heaven and Quakertown; the memoirs, Such a Life, From Our House, and Turning Bones; and the short story collection, The Least You Need to Know. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in such places as Harper's, Ms., Creative Nonfiction, The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, Fourth Genre, River Teeth, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, and Glimmer Train. He is the winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council. He teaches in the MFA Program at The Ohio State University, where he was the winner of the 2006 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching. Lee was born in southeastern Illinois, where his father farmed eighty acres in Lawrence County s Lukin Township. The gravel road that went past the lane to the Martin home, was the road that divided Lawrence County from Richland County, and Lee was amazed as a young boy by the fact that simply walking across the road could move him from one county to the next. In 1963, when he was eight, those gravel roads that ran straight and formed right angles when they intersected moved him to the hard roads first the blacktop into Sumner, and then U.S. Route 50 and Illinois Route 49 heading north to the family s new home during the school year in Oak Forest, a southern suburb of Chicago, where his mother had accepted an offer to teach third grade for Arbor Park School District #145. Just like that, the familiarity of the two-room Lukin School, the small Berryville Church of Christ, and the shops and cafes of Sumner, was replaced by the strangeness of urban living.
“Young and lovesick, Lee Martin's low-rent heroines live the stuff of country music. Earnest and innocent, they get caught up in trailer park romances and what Alice Hoffman called practical magic. Break the Skin is a gossipy, rollicking Witches of Wal-Mart.”--Stewart O'Nan, author of The Speed Queen
“I was worried for these characters as I'd worry for my own friends. The women want normal things--connection, stability--but get in their own way of finding peaceful lives. This is a suspenseful, engaging book.”--Alice Elliott Dark
“Mr. Martin is a top-notch craftsman…what is most remarkable about BREAK THE SKIN is its restrained tone and the author’s generosity toward his very needy characters. His sympathies for them rarely seem to wane, even when they are harboring criminals, conjuring hexes or plotting murder.”- The New York Times
“South of Scandinavia, there are fewer icicles and serial killers, but no lack of sinister intrigue. Pulitzer Prize finalist Lee Martin’s latest, Break the Skin, is a Lucinda Williams ballad of a small-town love affair—a teenage dropout, a nameless stranger—gone horribly wrong.” – Vogue.com
“Martin…gets the claustrophobia of small town life just right. With their oh-what-might-have-been voices, these women win our hearts.”- The Plain Dealer
“Martin, whose kidnap novel The Bright Forever (2005) was a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in fiction, expertly applies shades of James Cain–like noir to modern story that might have been inspired by one of the Lucinda Williams songs on this book's soundtrack. Black magic, daughters cursed by the loss or absence of their fathers, post traumatic stress syndrome, small-town secrecy and lies, pre-teen voyeurism: Welcome to life 'on the other side of right thinking.' An intoxicating small-town thriller that quickly gets under your skin.”--Kirkus Reviews
"What we really want from our summer reading is a chance to escape ourselves, to disappear for a while into the lives of other people. Break the Skin allows us to do that, while delivering a fast, suspenseful read." – Blogcritics.com
"Disaffected teenager Laney has no one in the world but the older Delilah, whom she clings to like a raft. Then the police start asking Laney questions that link her to the sadder-but-wiser Miss Baby, who thinks she’s finally found true love with a gentle man who can’t remember his own name, and the story of a wrenching crime emerges."--Library Journal
“Provocative… Crackling with dark deeds and bad intentions, Martin snakes through the lives of the desperate without casting pity.”--Publishers Weekly
“Carrying an almost archetypal resonance, this well-crafted tale of romantic desperation feels as sad and inevitable as an old murder ballad and should have an appeal beyond readers of serious fiction.” – Library Journal