To Never Know by Thomas Duffy

It’s the year 2000, and Steven Lewis is adrift.

He’s living with his parents in Florida after moving from New York City following an uninspired college career. His prospects are dismal. He works at a video store and is being driven everywhere by his mom and dad.

To make matters worse, his love life is nonexistent. In fact, if it weren’t for his near-constant fantasies about a girl from high school, he sometimes feels life would not be worth living.

The next year, a cataclysmic event galvanizes him into a new resolve — the 9/11 tragedy in NYC. He decides to return to the city and try to make a new go of things. The move will, he hopes, include a reacquaintance with the girl from high school — Kelly Brennan — even though she hasn’t yet responded to the one tentative letter he sent recently.

After getting settled into a miniscule apartment, he takes a job at a pharmacy and renews a relationship with a young woman named Nancy. She’s nice, he thinks, and very supportive, even paying part of his rent one month.

But she’s no Kelly.

The storyline becomes more involved as Steven encounters Kelly’s mother one day at the pharmacy. It is, he deems, his big chance to gain an inroad with Kelly. Then, he receives some shocking news that takes his future in a completely new direction.

His budding relationship with Nancy reaches a crisis point. His parents, still in Florida, tug on his emotions from afar. And he just can’t find a job that will elevate him above a paycheck-to-paycheck existence.

But it’s the revelation of his new roommate that will really draw the reader’s attention.

There’s drama and angst in equal measure throughout this dialogue-driven story that examines Steven’s problematic penchant for drifting with the tides of life rather than striking out boldly for the things he says he wants most — as he should have done way back in high school.

It’s also a tale of tragedy and rebirth, of second chances and the beauty of being there for those we care about. It’s deceptively complex, probing Steven’s insecurities and subsequent struggles to find his true path — as well as his one true love.

This is author Thomas Duffy’s fifth book. Fans may also want to try his others: Heartbreaker, Stockboy, One Love and Off the Line.

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