"Over the Line is a spare and magnificent novel, humorous and heartbreaking to the end. Drawing on his native Central New York with an eye as keen as William Kennedy’s or Richard Russo’s, David Lloyd gives us a timely character in the person of Justin Lyle, who is being raised in the economic and moral crucible of small town America. Yet, the story is as classic as it is contemporary, for what emerges is a boy’s coming of age and his realization that morality means nothing outside of the embrace of ambiguity."—Andrew Krivak, author of The Sojourn
"A brilliant debut novel centering on Justin, whose generation finds itself overwhelmed by the moral chaos of a society on a downward spiral. . . . Over the Line is resonant with meaning and a page turner as well."—Joan Mellen, author of Our Man in Haiti: George de Mohrenschildt and the CIA in the Nightmare Republic
Fifteen-year-old Justin Lyle does not see in himself the qualities he admires in heroes like his paternal grandfather, awarded a medal of honor during World War II, or in the fictional heroes of television and comic books. Growing up in the declining manufacturing town of East Liberty, New York—beset by unemployment, rising crime, and an influx of drugs, and encircled by struggling dairy farms—Justin feels isolated and decidedly unheroic. These feelings are intensified by his parents’ divorce, his longing for an unattainable girl, and the death, eight years previous but still a potent memory, of his infant brother. When Justin steps “over the line” one afternoon, attempting to help the drug-addled girlfriend of an unstable bully, he triggers a series of increasingly perilous encounters. By week’s end, Justin has been drawn into his community’s sinister underworld and compelled to unexpected action and a fresh understanding of the complexities of heroism.
The author of Boys: Stories and a Novella, Lloyd again illustrates his pitch-perfect ear for capturing the detached vernacular and emotional angst of adolescence. Lloyd brings to life the trials of a small, Upstate New York town, creating a story that is as real as it is fictional.
David Lloyd is director of the Creative Writing Program at Le Moyne College. He is the winner of the Maryland Poetry Review 2002 chapbook contest as well as the co-winner of the Poetry Society of America's year 2000 Robert H. Winner Memorial Award.