Full of warmth, terror, and underhanded humor, If I Were the Ocean, I’d Carry You Home, Pete Hsu’s debut story collection, captures the essence of surviving in a life set adrift. Children and young people navigate a world where the presence of violence and death rear themselves in everyday places: Vegas casinos, birthday parties, church services, and sunny days at the beach. Each story is a meditation on living in a world not made for us—the pervasive fear, the adaptations, the unexpected longings. A gripping and energetic debut, Hsu’s writing beats with the naked rhythms of an unsettled human heart.
“Each story surprised me, over and over again, with the narratives of children and young people navigating the random dangers of their homes, the adults around them, and the absolute presence always of violence and death. But it was the sly humor, the vivid detail of forest and church and street and body, that made these stories stay with me. The voices are indelible, and the moments when the whole world turns and pivots were admirable in their magic.” —Susan Straight, award-winning author of a memoir, In the Country of Women, and eight novels, including Highwire Moon.
“Pete Hsu is a clear, emotionally perceptive writer. The twelve loosely connected stories in If I Were the Ocean, I’d Carry You Home give us intimate views into the inner lives of sensitive characters trying to find a foothold in the shifting terrain of this unpredictable, limitless world.” —Steph Cha, author of Your House Will Pay
“Pete Hsu’s writing is assured and his stories subtle and keenly observed. If I Were the Ocean, I’d Carry You Home is about family and friendship and the way we run—all of us—to forget what it seems we shouldn’t.”
—Natashia Deón, author of Grace and The Perishing