Twelve-year-old Fee is a gifted Korean-American soprano in a boys' choir in Maine whose choir director reveals himself to be a serial pedophile. Fee and his friends are forced to bear grief, shame, and pain that endure long after the director is imprisoned. Fee survives even as his friends do not, but a deep-seated horror and dread accompany him through his self-destructive college days and after, until the day he meets a beautiful young student named Warden and is forced to confront the demons of his brutal past.
A Korean-American boy tries to deal with the legacy of abuse in Chee's stunning debut novel, which begins in Maine when young Aphias Zee joins a professional boys choir. Zee, who goes by the nickname of Fee, quickly becomes a star because of his soaring soprano voice, but the dark side of making music surfaces in the form of the conductor, a serial pedophile who slowly victimizes his young charges. The conductor manages to hide his propensities during Fee's years in the choir, but once the director is arrested the impact of his crimes begins to emerge: one of Fee's friends commits suicide by immolation and another shoots himself. Fee, meanwhile, embarks on a bizarre journey to find his identity, exploring his bisexuality while dabbling in drugs until he finally learns that his own absent father is also an imprisoned pedophile. Fee seems to settle down when he finally finds a partner, an athletic man named Bridey who was one of his school conquests, but he finds himself shaken to his core when the choir director's son turns up in his life and he is seized by an instant but deadly attraction. Chee is a gifted, poetic writer who takes big risks, from the background and sexual orientation of his protagonist to the chapters dealing with drugs, pedophilia and casual sex with grace and unflinching honesty. A counterpoint to the seamier material is Chee's exploration of Fee's spiritual side, which he delves into using animal imagery from the boy's Korean background; he also pens a wonderfully loving portrait of Fee's humble but spiritually sophisticated grandparents. This novel marks the debut of a major talent whose career will bear watching. Agent, Rebecca Kurson at Liza Dawson Associates.Author tour. (Nov.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.