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Please join us in welcoming writer and musician Willy Vlautin for a discussion and signing of his newest book, The Free. Ann Patchett has described The Free as "a portrait of American life that is so hard and so heartbreaking that it should be unbearable, but it isn't. The straightforward beauty of Vlautin's writing, and the tender care he shows his characters, turns a story of struggle into indispensable reading. I couldn't recommend it more highly."
The Free illuminates the lives of three memorable characters who are looking for a way out of their financial, familial, and existential crises. While serving in Iraq, veteran Leroy Kervin suffered a traumatic brain injury. Frustrated by the simplest daily routines, and unable to form new memories, he eventually attempts suicide. Lying in a coma, he retreats deep inside the memories locked in his mind.
Freddie McCall works two jobs and still can't make ends meet. He's lost his wife and kids, and the house is next. Medical bills have buried him in debt, a situation that propels him to consider a lucrative--and dangerous--proposition.
Pauline Hawkins is a nurse at the local hospital. Though she attends to others' needs with practical yet firm kindness, including her mentally ill elderly father, she remains emotionally removed. But a new patient, a young runaway, touches something deep and unexpected inside her.
The lives of these characters intersect as they look for meaning in desperate times. Heartbreaking and hopeful, The Free is a testament to the resiliency of the human heart.
Willy Vlautin is the author of The Motel Life, Northline, and Lean on Pete, and the singer and songwriter of the band Richmond Fontaine. He lives outside Portland, Oregon.