Self-Portrait with Boy (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

I’m haunted by this debut long after turning the last page, much like Lu Rile was by the life changing image she created. Lu is an artist who is starving for more than food and whose mesmerizing self-portrait accidentally captures a young boy’s rooftop fall. The author’s unique narrative style involved me from the first and made me antagonize right along with Lu – would her choices propel her from obscurity to fame or ruin her most precious relationship? Witnessing Lu becoming herself, while under enormous pressure…I read this in one day!

— Kathy W.


A compulsively readable and electrifying debut about an ambitious young female artist who accidentally photographs a boy falling to his death--an image that could jumpstart her career, but would also 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 past her window 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 the photograph 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 protect a woman she has come to love.

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.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9781501169588
ISBN-10: 1501169580
Publisher: Scribner Book Company
Publication Date: February 6th, 2018
Pages: 384
Language: English