Conner Habib, host of the podcast “Against Everyone With Conner Habib,” brings his curiosity about psychology and philosophy to fiction with Hawk Mountain, his mesmerizing debut novel about the intricacies of the human psyche and the effect of destructive behavior on love.
Thirty-three-year-old Todd Nasca is sitting on a New England beach while his son, Anthony, plays nearby. A man approaches the boy. Todd recognizes him as Jack Gates, whom he hasn’t seen in 15 years. Back then, Jack tormented Todd. Now seemingly amiable, Jack inserts himself into Todd’s life, bonding with Anthony, confronting Todd’s estranged ex-wife and making himself welcome in Todd’s home, while Todd drowns in memories and trauma, self-doubt and confusion.
The narrative’s uneasy edginess is supplemented by flashbacks to Todd and Jack’s adolescence, including a transformative field trip to Hawk Mountain in their senior year of high school. Additional perspectives from other characters build backstory and ramp up the precariousness of Todd’s relationships and sense of reality. Tension spirals as Habib leads the reader to wonder what the truth really is, who is telling it and who is believing it.
Habib’s unique examination of his flawed and fascinating characters as the victims and sources of violence is both disturbing and insightful. His exploration of the tangled web of human desire, emotions and abuse, and how it becomes a legacy passed down through generations, is gritty and chilling. With haunting prose and deeply atmospheric descriptions, Hawk Mountain is a disturbing descent into the convulsions of the human mind and heart.