Please join us for an evening with local author William J. McGee as he speaks about and signs copies of his new book Half the Child.
Half the Child takes place over four consecutive summers in the lives of Michael Mullen and his son Benjamin, who ages from 2½ to 5½. The novel chronicles the separation, divorce, custody battle, and abduction that threaten to tear apart father and son.
Mike is a 34-year-old air traffic controller at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport who is also pursuing a graduate degree in Psychology. He and Ben’s mother were married for less than five years when she suddenly decided to seek a divorce. Throughout these four summers the legal stakes keep dramatically increasing, as mediation devolves into litigation, and her romantic and career aspirations spur her to first take Ben to Indiana, and then to abduct him and resettle outside the U.S.
For Mike, the cost of asserting his rights as a father and Ben’s rights as a son continues to escalate. Over the course of the four summers, the battle for Ben negatively affects Mike’s career, education, financial state, friendships, romantic life, physical health, and emotional well-being. Ultimately, refusing to relinquish his parental rights leads Mike to personal bankruptcy, temporary homelessness, potentially catastrophic errors at work, and suicidal depression. Yet Mike steadfastly refuses to consider a life that consists of him living apart from Ben.
Thematically, each of the summers is marked by a key stage in Ben’s development:
• Book One, 2013:A Summer of Colors
• Book Two, 2014:A Summer of Numbers
• Book Three, 2015:A Summer of Words
• Book Four, 2016:A Summer of Concepts
For both Ben and Mike, these are years of unparalleled growth. But with courts continually ruling against Ben’s father, it remains uncertain if their bond will survive. Ultimately, they will write their own love story.
Half the Child was a semi-finalist in both the 2017 James Jones First Novel Competition and the 2017 William Faulkner Creative Writing Competition.
About the author:
William J. McGee was born in New York City and received an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University. Among other pursuits, he teaches undergraduate and graduate Creative Writing; represents travelers as a consumer advocate in Washington; and is an award-winning investigative journalist and columnist. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Consumer Reports Travel Letter and currently contributes to Consumer Reports and writes a monthly travel column for USA Today. His journalism and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, Money, Parents, Good Housekeeping, Condé Nast Traveler, Yahoo.com, DailyBeast.com, HuffingtonPost.com, and many other print and online publications. He also worked in airline flight operations management and served in the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary. McGee is the author of Attention All Passengers (HarperCollins, 2012), a nonfiction exposé of the airline industry, and is developing AirFear, a scripted television drama. He lives in Connecticut, where he is a member of a boxing club. He is, of course, at work on another novel, Bush. He is also a father.