an excerpt


"At the welcoming party, Vito put an arm around Grams and kissed her cheek in front of all the guests: imposing gentlemen in crisp suits clutching mobile phones and balancing glasses of whiskey on their leathery palms, and ladies so pulled together I had to wonder if there were some sort of magnet planted into their bodies, anchoring their weight to the center so that they always stood as tall and as proud as they possibly could. I cringed to myself at the sight of Vito’s lips touching Grams’s face, and then inwardly I cringed again, because there was no part of me that could explain why I couldn’t bear to see Grams looking like her life was finally starting to take shape. It made me sick. There was an escalating dissatisfaction with my own self, an unrest gnawing away somewhere inside me, the sneaking suspicion that I might not turn out to be a good person after all. As children we are made to believe that we will usually do the right thing, that in every situation we will be responsible, prudent, clearheaded, fair. It is only when the self-awareness seeps into our adolescent beings that we begin to question this—partly because we doubt our own capacity for nobility, but also because is it really necessary to be all good all the time? At any given minute, is there really enough room in the world for seven billion good people, our benevolence and grace bouncing off one other, all bright eyes and bushy tails and helping hands? It seemed highly unlikely. It seemed as if the best we could do was take turns."