On a beautiful summer morning at the Jersey Shore, 4-year-old Sarah Carpenter wanders toward the ocean and never returns. The police think she drowned, but her babysitter Amy claims Sarah was abducted. The only other witness, 17-year-old Donnie Marcino, didn’t see a thing. A narcoleptic since birth, he was fast asleep.
Twenty years later Sarah’s disappearance still haunts Donnie, as does his lingering bond with Amy. When she calls from the hospital after a failed suicide attempt, Donnie returns to his hometown, but how can he help Amy, and help himself, without changing the past? In The Revolving Heart, love and redemption collide as the adult Donnie struggles to atone for his youthful mistakes.
For aspiring indie filmmaker Kevin Stacey, it’s another day on the set of his first film, but when his estranged father, a failed Hollywood actor, arrives unexpectedly with a bundle of cash, a gun, and a stolen capuchin monkey, he’s propelled toward the journey that will change his life.
The monkey, Henry, has been liberated from a research lab by animal rights activists. Inspired by his friend Veronica to reevaluate his relationship with other species, Kevin learns about the pain and suffering inflicted on lab animals as he forges a bond with the capuchin. When father and son embark on a road trip with Henry, Kevin is caught between the egocentric father who abandoned him and the temperamental monkey whose fate is in his hands. With both the FBI and his mother’s ghost watching, will Kevin risk his career and his father’s freedom to bring the stolen monkey to safety?
Meanwhile, Veronica’s encounter with an eccentric Catholic priest triggers her own journey toward change.
A heartbreaking yet comic family drama, A Better Heart examines the human-animal bond and the bonds between fathers and sons, challenging readers to explore their beliefs about the treatment of non-human species.
Chuck Augello is the author of The Revolving Heart (Black Rose Writing), a Best Books of 2020 Selection by Kirkus Reviews. His work has appeared in One Story, Literary Hub, Juked, The Coachella Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Fiction Writer’s Review, and many other fine journals. A contributing editor for Cease, Cows, he publishes The Daily Vonnegut, a website exploring the life and art of American writer Kurt Vonnegut.
A giant of American literature, Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) is the author of 14 novels, including the classic anti-war novel Slaughterhouse-Five, a Modern Library 100 Best Novels selection. His other works include Cat’s Cradle, Mother Night, Breakfast of Champions, and A Man without a Country. Vonnegut’s signature blend of satire, American history, and empathy for the human condition has earned a worldwide following.