This story recounts the unbearable cost of the young man’s heroin addiction, in terms of heartbreak and financial capital, and it may cost him his life if he can’t kick it. However, there’s another cost running through this plainly- and effectively-told tale. The toxicity flowing from Edward, the embittered and estranged patriarch, generates coldness and distance in his offspring. His two daughters, Julia and Harriet, barely speak, and their brother in nowhere to be found at this time of family crisis (he lives on the opposite coast). This negativity and mistrust lead directly to Jack’s addiction. His suffering is the cost of the way this family behaves; he needs to be emotionally elsewhere, not part of this family.
“Cost” thus holds up the unfeeling Lambert family for our review, at odds, unloving, ultimately ineffective in dealing with its youngest member’s crisis. The author seamlessly shifts points of view, so that we get internal dialogs from all major characters. These are perfect. They guide us through the treacherous waters of this family strife, and we end understanding all. Ms. Robinson’s powerful novel exposes this fractured family at its worst time; it is artfully, thoroughly done, and so harrowingly real. A serious, excellent, and thought-provoking piece.