Forthcoming from Scribner,
A compulsively readable and electrifying debut, SELF-PORTRAIT WITH BOY follows an ambitious young female artist who accidentally photographs a boy falling to his death—an image that could jumpstart her career, but would devastate her most intimate friendship.
Lu Rile is a relentlessly focused young photographer struggling to make ends meet. Working three jobs, responsible for her aging father, and worrying that the crumbling warehouse she lives in is being sold to developers, she is at a point of desperation. One day, in the background of a self-portrait, Lu accidentally captures on film a boy falling to his death. The photograph turns out to be startlingly gorgeous, the best work of art she’s ever made. It’s an image that could change her life… if she lets it.
But the decision to show it is not easy. The boy is her neighbors’ son, and the tragedy brings all the building’s residents together. It especially unites Lu with his beautiful grieving mother, Kate. As the two forge an intense bond based on sympathy, loneliness, and budding attraction, Lu feels increasingly unsettled and guilty, torn between equally fierce desires: to use the photograph to advance her career, and to remain loyal to her dearest friend. Set in early 90s Brooklyn on the brink of gentrification, SELF-PORTRAIT WITH BOY is a provocative commentary about the emotional dues that must be paid on the road to success, a powerful exploration of the complex terrain of female friendship, and a brilliant debut from novelist Rachel Lyon.