From Whiting Award-winning writer John McManus comes a debut novel of startling originality and mystery.
The son of an unknown father and an ostracized mother, and the next of kin in a long line of bastard relatives, nine-year-old Loren Garland lives a life of subtle mystery beneath the shadow of an East Tennessee mountain. It is on his family’s broken-down estate that Loren’s imagination grows, and with it, the extraordinary voice of Bitter Milk, a young boy named Luther who may be Loren’s imaginary friend, his conscience, or his evil twin. And yet outside the puzzle of Loren’s brain, there are the darker goings-on of his family—his mother who wishes she were a man, his new uncle who plans to develop the Garland land into real estate, and his withered grandfather who holds the clan together through truculence and fear. When Loren’s mother disappears, he must set out on a quest of his own devising, tossing aside the trappings of youth in order to discover the truth of the world.