The Year of Ice A Novel

Brian Malloy

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

272 Pages



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Winner of the Alex Award
A Booklist Editors' Choice Best Adult Book for Young Adults
A Finalist for the Ferro-Grumley Award
Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults Nominee

It's 1978 and a typical January day in Minnesota's Twin Cities—except for Kevin Doyle, whose mother died two years ago when her car plunged into the icy waters of the Upper Mississippi. A high school senior, Kevin is a marginal student obsessed with keggers, rock and roll, maintaining his place in the pecking order of high school males and—unbeknownst to anyone else—with a boy in his school with thick eyelashes and a bad attitude.

In the past two years, Kevin's relationship with his father, Patrick, has grown increasingly distant, and as lonely women vie for his father's attention, Kevin discovers Patrick's own closely guarded secret: At the time of his wife's death, he had planned to abandon his family for another woman. More disturbingly, his mother's death may well have been a suicide, not an accident.

Fanning the flames of familial discontent is Kevin's Aunt Nora, a belligerent and fiercely religious Irish immigrant who has never liked her brother-in-law and blames him for the death of her sister. In the coming year, a series of painful truths and closely guarded secrets threatens to shatter the tentative bonds between father and son and wreak havoc on the lives of those nearest to them both.


Praise for The Year of Ice

"Malloy's supporting characters are complex and fascinating . . . but it's Kevin himself that makes the novel, a kid with problems serious and mundane who still gets by without losing his mind, his heart or his sense of humor."—The Philadelphia Inquirer

"In The Year of Ice, first-time novelist Brian Malloy writes like a seasoned author. The story is a grabber from the get-go. The Year of Ice extends far beyond the humdrum coming-out/coming-of-age genre. Family dysfunction, honor and honesty are all major themes, filtered through the limitations of a teenager's mindset and handled with deft humor."—Minneapolis Star Tribune

"In Kevin, Malloy gives us a normally self-centered, moody teenager who is smarter than he knows and more self-possessed than nearly anyone else around him. Furthermore, if he goes through hell, he also gets some breaks, including glimpses of real gay life right in Minneapolis and enough trust from and insight into his friends to see that they are dealing with 'major shit,' too. More a coming-toward-coming-out than a coming-out story, this book's a beauty, whatever you call it."—Ray Olson, Booklist (starred review)

"An impressive debut . . . It's Malloy's voice and his attention to detail that resonate so beautifully."—Out magazine

"The Year of Ice is a terrific bildungsroman of deep passions, family tragedy, and manly sensuality told with a great deal of humor and excitement. Malloy's intimate and honest voice should win him many adoring fans."—Josip Novakovich, New York Public Library Writing Fellow and author of Salvation and Other Disasters

"With intelligence, empathy, and just the right dose of humor, Brian Malloy completely immerses us in the world of an ordinary boy going through the very extraordinary process of living his eighteenth year. In Kevin Doyle, Malloy gives us a gritty, witty, and utterly engrossing portrait of a young man who has enough on his hands with impending adulthood but then is forced to confront some very ugly long-buried family secrets. In The Year of Ice, lies are exposed, hearts broken, ideals shattered, and Brian Malloy, with keen eye and assured hand, announces himself as a writer to watch."—Anne Ursu, author of Spilling Clarence

"Brian Malloy has a keen sense of time and place, of humor and character and most importantly, Brian Malloy has a big heart and it reveals itself on every single page of this fine novel."—Lorna Ladvick, author of Patty Jane's House of Curl and Your Oasis on Flame Lake

"Brian Malloy creates a story where being gay is only one of a teenager's problems, and not the most difficult one. The less-than-perfect people in the boy's life—the philandering father, the aggressive divorcées and widows—make for a new realism. Other writers would do well to read this original book."—David Leddick, author of My Worst Date and Never Eat In

"With his sharp, native instinct and determination, Kevin Doyle, the smart-assed boy wonder of Brian Malloy's debut novel, is the gay Augie March of Minneapolis in the 1970s."—Bart Schneider, author of Secret Love and Blue Bossa and Founding Editor of Hungry Mind Review

"Brian Malloy has written a delightful first novel . . . Malloy blends in an undercurrent of class conflict without mocking either Kevin's working-class background or the privileged liberalism of the rich kids he encounters . . . The Year of Ice is an artfully written portrait of a young man coming to terms with the world. Told with a keen and perceptive style, the story touches the hearts of all who have been young, of all who have struggled with identity, of all who have lost a sense of place and purpose, and all who have found that place again."—Frontiers magazine

"Stunning. Malloy deftly weaves the coming-of-age tale into a revealing account of sexual awakenings and the consequences of deception."—Wisconsin In Step

"Malloy is in complete control throughout: whether communicating images of an icy midwestern winter or eliciting the complexities of relationships that are chilling and thawing. He also does a bang up job with humor . . . unique and new."—Echo magazine

"Amiable, told briskly and with considerable style."—Kirkus Reviews

"A gay high school senior struggles to cope with his father's irresponsibility in Malloy's poignant, quietly effective debut . . . Displays a razor-sharp comic touch in the verbal sparring between father and son as [the father] tries to bring his instant family together, and [Malloy] balances the comedy with some touching scenes after [the father] messes up his latest domestic venture. Malloy shows plenty of talent in his gay spin on the genre, and this debut bodes well for his literary future."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

The Year of Ice

Aunt Nora always says that people can still surprise you. I never got what she meant by that until last fall. I mean, Floyd Anderson...

Read the full excerpt


  • Brian Malloy

  • Brian Malloy is the development director for The Loft, the largest independent literary arts center in the U.S., as well as grants director for Open Book, a community center for the literary and book arts. He lives in Minneapolis. The Year of Ice is his first novel. Visit the author's website at





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