The Best People in the World (Paperback)

By Justin Tussing

Harper Perennial, 9780060815356, 336pp.

Publication Date: January 23, 2007



In Paducah, Kentucky, seventeen-year-old Thomas feels as reined in as the mighty Ohio, a river confined by high floodwalls protecting his small Southern hometown. But all boundaries vanish when Thomas experiences first love with Alice, his new history teacher, a woman eight years his senior--and when he meets Shiloh, a misfit vagabond and anarchist who becomes his new role model. Fleeing to rural Vermont, this unlikely trio boldly pursues freedom, intimacy, and seclusion, unfettered by commitments and rules. But a life apart from the world does not ensure a life apart from the past--and for one of them, the past that emerges will threaten tragedy.

Praise For The Best People in the World

“An engrossing tale . . . The novel ultimately succeeds because of the original voice of the narrator.”
-USA Today

“Tussing is a fine writer with a flair for imagery, and he’s crafted a melancholy, resonant story.”
-Boston magazine

“Inventive . . . Eloquent in capturing what it’s like to be alien in your own hometown.
-Rocky Mountain News

“Bleakly beautiful... Tussing skillfully crafts simultaneously visionary and demented characters... [An] odd but honest, appealing American story.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A fresh, original voice . . . Tussing fashions a sophisticated exploration of the allure of love.”
-Des Moines Register

“One bright book of exuberant American life . . . Tussing has a real gift.”
-New York Times Book Review

“It is very rare to find a novel so lovingly, deliberately and perfectly written . . . Read it. Now.”

“A significant literary feat... Announces the arrival of a talented young voice on the contemporary fiction scene.”
-Boston Sunday Globe

“This novel is rich in character, and it offers scene after scene of crackling, revelatory dialogue among lovers and friends.”
-Chicago Tribune

“[A] lovely novel . . . Tussing is a witty, affecting writer.”
-Washington Post Book World

“A richly complicated and very wonderful novel . . . Ambitious and mesmerizing.”

“A self-assured debut that lovingly depicts how the past never stops revisiting us, even if we can’t revisit it.”
-Portland Oregonian

“A strong work... Tussing’s take on the irrevocability of adolescent whim and heady self-determination is chillingly real.”
-Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A rewarding read... Witty, well paced, and inventive... Tussing writes beautifully.”
-Christian Science Monitor

“Marks the arrival of a compelling novelist with the gifts to enhance the contemporary literary landscape.”

“Plaintive and powerful imagery... Breathtaking... A hauntingly atmospheric ode to love’s enigmatic and labyrinthine nature.”

“Filled with surprise, recklessness, melancholy, headlong romance, and hilarity. Justin Tussing is the real thing. It doesn’t happen that often.”
-Ron Hansen, author of MARIETTE IN ECSTASY and ATTICUS, National Book Award Finalist

“[A] beautiful, fearless novel... By turns comic and mysterious and wild, ultimately this is a heartbreaking book.”
-Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of MADELEINE IS SLEEPING, National Book Award finalist

“Undeniably original imagination . . . An impressive work of fiction by a writer blessed with a distinctive voice.”

“Defies categorization... The twists and turns are never predictable, and the open-ended denouement will leave readers wanting more.”
-Pittsburgh Tribune Review