The Hearts of Men: A Novel
Nelson Doughty is a determined Boy Scout and a proudly earnest bugler, which puts him on a clear-cut path to becoming an Eagle Scout and excelling as a Boy Scout leader. At thirteen, however, he is punished for his earnestness by the other boys at the Camp Chippewa Boy Scout camp, becoming the target of cruel bullying. Only one boy, the more popular Jonathan Quick, finds the moral courage to help him–and the “help” he gives is strained and paltry. Still, Nelson holds onto it, and their strange, unbalanced friendship–forged at the camp–continues throughout their lives.
As the men grow older, marry, have children, divorce, make mistakes, and attain surprising professional heights, Camp Chippewa remains a place outside of time. When the longtime camp Scoutmaster dies, Nelson takes his place, reigning over the kinds of boys–and men–he knows all too well. A blunt, often unsettling examination of male friendship, as well as a damning overview of the kind of mistakes men make in pursuit of sex and power, Hearts shuns any shred of cloying nostalgia and leaves readers with the realization that no place is sacred. Childhood can be cruel, adulthood crueler. And only the very finest moral codes stay true when held to the light.