The Book of Why

A Novel


By Nicholas Montemarano

Formats and Prices




$17.00 CAD


  1. Trade Paperback $15.00 $17.00 CAD
  2. ebook $9.99 $12.99 CAD
  3. Audiobook Download (Unabridged)

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around February 11, 2014. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Self-help writer Eric Newborn’s motivational books have spawned a legion of devoted followers who swear that his ideas have pulled their lives from the brink. But after Eric can’t save his own wife from dying, he finds himself at a loss — the power of positive thinking is simply not enough to overcome his grief. Retreating to the home he and his wife shared on Martha’s Vineyard, Eric, with his dog as his closest companion, attempts to distance himself from the teachings he has come to hate.

But when a woman named Sam shows up at his door one night five years later, Eric must finally confront his heartache and reconcile his worldview with the pain he has suffered.

At once a powerful love story, a stirring portrait of a soul laid bare by grief, and a celebration of coincidence, connection, and the belief that true love never dies, The Book of Why explores the deep powers of the heart and mind to shape the world around us, blurring the lines between loss and love, fate and free will, despair and joy.

“This is a haunting and extraordinary book.” — Julie Orringer, author of The Invisible Bridge



    "Montemarano is a brilliant illuminator of the outer reaches of hope, a writer unafraid to ask the hardest questions: Is there meaning behind human suffering? Are we responsible, somehow, for the tragedies that befall us? Do we have the power to change our lives? And if not, what's left for us? You'll read this stunning novelcompulsively, at first in search of answers, then from a deep and painful affection for the human beings you'll meet in these pages. This is a haunting and extraordinary book." -- Julie Orringer, author of How to Breathe Underwater and The Invisible Bridge
  • "A fascinating tale of faith, doubt.... An extraordinarily interesting book." -- Carolyn See, The Washington Post
  • "I love Nicholas Montemarano's writing. He turns the lights up so bright on the beauty of daily life that the dark places he goes leave you gasping. The Book of Why is a breath-taking show of love and hope, of disappearing acts, of restorative reappearances. It is, in a word, magic." -- Rachel DeWoskin, author of Big Girl Small
  • "Love and death: our two greatest mysteries. Not many writers have the guts or the skill to take them on at the same time, but Nicholas Montemarano has both. With The Book of Why, he's managed a seemingly impossible feat-using language to delineate, with great compassion and precision, that which appears ineffable." -- Ron Currie, Jr., author of Everything Matters!
  • "Nicholas Montemarano is a brilliant storyteller with a poet's heart-and The Book of Why is an intricately constructed narrative, part riveting, part reverie, entirely beautiful. I wanted this novel to last forever, and still I could not bear to put it down-kind of like life itself." -- Claudia Emerson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Late Wife
  • "The Book of Why presents a compulsively readable mystery; it is impossible to resist how persuasively Montemarano plays with the metaphysics of love and desire." -- Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia

  • "The Book of Why progresses with the intimacy of a long letter written just to you... Along the way, there's some lovely writing... He's created an affecting tale of a man mightily striving to excavate some meaning from profound heartache."
    WBUR's The ARTery
  • "Beautifully written and pleasantly quirky...Ralph lives in the novel the way dogs live in the lives of of dog lovers everywhere-sleeping a lot, playing fetch and loving the people who love her." -- The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Pet Tales

    "Remarkable . . . deft storytelling and ruthless honesty . . . as dark and dazzling as a mine shaft studded with diamonds." -- The New York Times Book Review
  • "An American stylist capable of redeeming our darkest dreams." -- Jayne Anne Phillips
  • "One of my favorite contemporary short-story writers, and, for my money, among the best we've got." -- Dan Chaon, author of Among the Missing and You Remind Me of Me
  • "Dark, powerful . . . Montemarano handles brutality and abjection with ambiguity and subtlety." -- Publishers Weekly
  • "Montemarano's writing is sure and clear and direct. He describes the banalities of everyday life with clinical precision." -- San Francisco Chronicle

On Sale
Feb 11, 2014
Page Count
336 pages
Back Bay Books

Nicholas Montemarano

About the Author

Nicholas Montemarano is the author of a story collection, If the Sky Falls (a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice) and a debut novel, A Fine Place. He is Associate Professor of English at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA.

Learn more about this author