In the 1950s, in the Ontario tobacco-growing community of Smoke, a young boy on the verge of manhood is scarred forever. A night out with his buddies, too much booze and a lit cigarette, and Buster McFiddie's life will never be the same. Through the process of healing, one man's voice speaks to him, softly, to ease his pain, spinning yarns of The Purple Gang, the notorious Detroit mob. It is the voice of John Gray, the town doctor, and soon it's clear that telling these tales means as much to Doc as hearing them means to Buster.
In an era of conformity, a disfigured boy tries to move his life forward, and an old man grapples desperately with his past: the convergence of two lives on the cusp will change each of them, and the small-town world that binds them, in ways they could not have imagined.
Elizabeth Ruth's second novel is a tour de force: a potent, richly inventive story of identity and transformation, of reconciliation between the way you are seen, and the truth of who you really are.