“Highly readable, a debut of great promise.” — The New York Observer
“…a meticulously crafted, immensely satisfying piece of work.” — The Seattle Times
“…a technical accomplishment rare in a debut novelist.” — Orlando Sentinel
Finalist for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize
from Publishers Weekly:
Ryan’s debut novel, suffused with an earnestness that might seem cloying were it not for his ease and control, follows Teresa Kerrigan as she struggles to raise four children, two from each of her two failed marriages. The novel covers 30 years from the mid-1960s. By the ’70s, the family is in northeast Florida, with NASA launches nearby, and youngest son Frankie can’t shake his boyhood obsession with spaceships and science fiction. As an adolescent Frankie happily embraces his belief that he is gay, dreaming wistfully of Luke Skywalker. Next oldest Joe, who narrates some chapters, has a more painful time sorting through his own messy sexuality, while the eldest, Matt, leaves the household at 18 to care for his sick father, and Karen, a high school dropout, marries at 21 and withdraws emotionally from her mother—as each child does in his or her own way. Ryan gets the dreariness and tumult of the Kerrigan lives right, presenting Teresa as flawed but sympathetic, and her brood as reactive in familiar but nicely specified ways. All are compassionately drawn through Joe’s articulate bewilderment, particularly the sensitive and surprising Frankie, who comes to dominate Joe’s own self-exploration. When AIDS eventually figures into the plot, Ryan maintains this impressive debut’s nuance and sweetness to the end.
from School Library Journal:
Teresa Kerrigan never envisioned herself as a twice-divorced mother of four. Somehow, life has conspired against all of her dreams and she is left trying to raise her children in 1970s Florida, surrounded by the Nixon scandals, Apollo launches, and streets of identical ranch houses. Ryan skillfully weaves Teresa’s story with those of her children as they try to make it to adulthood intact. Matt, the eldest, barely remembers his father but impulsively goes to live with him at 18. Karen, the only daughter, uses rebellion as a buffer against the dysfunction that permeates the household and openly flouts parental authority. Joe struggles mightily to be the normal and good son, but cannot escape feelings of shame and inadequacy over his homosexuality. And Frankie, the youngest, cloaks himself with myriad eccentricities and uses them as a magnet to draw others into his circle. On the outer perimeter, readers glimpse two ex-husbands and the ways that they ebb and flow in their children’s lives. In weaving together the strands that make up the stories of one family over four decades, Ryan does not attempt to tie up loose ends or heal all of the resentments that have built up. But he does paint a powerful picture of dysfunction intertwined with humor, love, and hope. Teens will find much to relate to and may even walk away with a deeper appreciation of the quirkiness of their own families.
from the publisher:
Patrick Ryan’s first work of fiction is written with such authority, grace, and wisdom, it might be the capstone of a distinguished literary career.
In the Florida of NASA launches, ranch houses, and sudden hurricanes, Teresa Kerrigan, ungrounded by two divorces, tries to hold her life together. But her ex-husbands linger in the background while her four children spin away to their own separate futures, each carrying the baggage of a complex family history. Matt serves as caretaker to the ailing father who abandoned him as a child, while his wild teenage sister, Karen, hides herself in marriage to a born-again salesman. Joe, a perpetual outsider, struggles with a private sibling rivalry that nearly derails him. And then there’s the youngest, Frankie, an endearing, eccentric sci-fi freak who’s been searching since childhood for intelligent life in the universe–and finds it.
Written with wry affection, and with compassion for every character in its pages, Send Me is a wholly original, haunting evocation of family love, loss, and, ultimately, forgiveness.