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Hurt People

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  327 ratings  ·  68 reviews
It’s the summer of 1988 in northeastern Kansas, an area home to four prisons that has been shaken by the recent escape of a convict. But for two young brothers in Leavenworth, the only thing that matters is the pool in their apartment complex. Their mother forbids the boys to swim alone, but she’s always at work trying to make ends meet after splitting with their police-of ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by FSG Originals
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Average rating 3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  327 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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Book Riot Community
A mysterious stranger creates a rift between two brothers in this great debut, based on Smith's short story of the same name. Two brothers are spending a sweltering 1988 Leavenworth, Kansas summer poolside while their policeman father helps hunt for an escaped convict. But when a mysterious man begins hanging around the pool, they will learn hard lessons in disappointment and a growing loss of innocence. A deep, atmospheric novel of young lives in a prison town.

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May 05, 2016 added it
Picked this up because of the cover—namely its congruence of an arguably dead medium. Forced myself to rubberneck through the entire thing on behalf of my grim interest in malfeasance and penitence as exemplified by its setting of Leavenworth, Kansas.

The narrator's attention to detail is a case against its realism although one can easily imagine the entire gritty recall to be mediated through the lens of many years and therapeutic efforts. But even still, the question of narration lingers and
Douglas Lord
Feb 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Hurt People—is that a direction or a descriptor? This well-written slow burn of a story gives readers a very clear view of what it’s like to be age nine living in an apartment complex in Leavenworth, KS, circa 1988. That may or may not seem like somewhere you want to be, depending on how much you enjoy the accompanying atmosphere of constant tension. Our smart young narrator and his slightly older brother are new in town, and their world is small. There are “…hints of kids. A turned over tricycl ...more
Melissa Douglas
Mar 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Plot was drawn out. Repetitive
May 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Somehow I got lost in the end.
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kansas-reads
Impossible to put down. Authentic, painful, and so well written.
Chris Blocker
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Here's what works really well about Hurt People:
The child's perspective.
The narrative of Hurt People is told by an eight-year old boy. His view of the world is eye opening and arguably very accurate for a child. At times the author may get away from the voice to make the story clear for the reader, but I believe he does so sparingly and for good reason. For the most part, our narrator is a very average eight-year old:

But in this world, under these trees, I sat down and cried. Softly, as if I mig
Fee Anyau
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
A bit too slow-paced, but the author did a great job narrating events and describing feelings from the point of view of an eight-year-old boy. Some pretty powerful scenes here and there, realistically written about being hurt and passing hurt onto others. Not an entirely memorable read, but a very good one nonetheless.
Mar 30, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a 3 or a 4 depending on how annoyed you get hearing about the mundane day to day events in the life of an 8 year old. Yes, you built a fort. But as the reader I don't need to hear about it every time. Or about your GI Joes. Or most of the things that are important to an 8 year old. Sure I like the color that it added to the book but I didn't need quite so much of it. In some ways I worried that this would be all the book was about and that what I thought the main story was would get lost ...more
Feb 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc-review
ARC for review - EPD - March 1, 2016.

Story of two very young brother living in Leavenworth, Kansas in the late 1980s – their parents are newly divorced and there’s never enough money or adult supervision so they spend their time at the apartment complex pool. There they meet a young man named Chris and any astute reader is going to see what is coming, but the story is told so skillfully from the younger brother’s point of view that you can forgive HIM for not seeing or understanding what is hap
Laura McGee
Aug 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book takes place in the same area I grew up in, so I was immediately drawn to the towns descriptions, as well as the authors take on the people who live there. The story itself builds and builds and keeps you very interested. I was surprised at the ending and thought it was a thoroughly enjoyable book.
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, 2017, indie
Not a bad book, but I found myself skimming quite a bit to the end. I like slow-paced books, but this one seemed to contain quite a bit of things not happening, which other reviewers have noted. I also predicted the ending early on, which rarely happens for me. Still, I'd say it's worth a look, and I'm interested in seeing what comes next from this author. ...more
Hayley Danch
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m really not sure how this book got on to my bookshelf, but I am very glad it did.

Raw, honest, sad, and painful, this novel is a whole lot of “hurt people” hurting people. The characters, while most of them are very unlikable, have these raw moments where you see their humanoid characteristics and you see them as more than a character in a plot but complex beings who’ve had a past. That being said, there are a fair share of one dimensional characters, as well.

The whole plot is intriguing, fo
Elyse Rudin
Nov 24, 2017 rated it liked it
This book reminded me of the movie,"The Florida Project ". Two brothers ages 9 and 11 live with their mother in a run down apartment building. Their father is a cop that they see on weekends. The brothers are mostly alone day and night. They are befriended by a man who the older brother develops a close relationship with while the younger brother is jealous of this "friendship ". They live near Leavenworth prison and a prisoner has escaped leading the reader to wonder if the man is the escaped p ...more
Jane Arnoff
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story of two unnamed brothers who are left to their own devices one summer after their parents' separation. The parents love the boys dearly but just don't pay enough attention to what they might be doing alone all day. The boys ages aren't identified either but I would guess around 11 and 13. This was a little bit of a slow start for me but am glad I stuck with it. The author captures the minds and hearts of boys this age so very well as well as the parents' struggles to retain their adult ...more
Alberto Ramirez
The novel seemed to do a great job of capturing the doldrums of summer vacation experienced two turn key brothers and having their world corcle the drain in a melodic, sometimes mind numbing reptition.

The challenges coming their way seem to always be on full display to the reader and only made interesting through the distracted eyes of a young boy, experiencing life as it happens to him. Many times, it leaves the reader in suspense because they worry on behalf of the naive protagonist, but throu
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book, in a sense, is pretty predictable but overall still pretty interesting. I was very drawn to it and couldn’t put it down, and I get bored with books pretty easily. The main point is sort of lost and it takes a while to get to the “good stuff” but still was very well worth the read in my opinion.
Amy Hearting
Back in my KC days Cote Smith released a book and did a book talk at the Plaza location. (miss those events!). This book was written by a ku grad and took place in Leavenworth KS. Me being a Kansas girl AND teaching in Leavenworth it was an easy yes. Glad I finally made time to read it. :). If any other KS friends would like it next I'm happy to mail it away. ...more
Richard R
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Started with a good voice that lured me in. But this gradually became repetitive and annoying as it became clear that no other element of the story had any merit. Poor and lazy character development that relied on cliches. and contrived, unrealistic plot. A real struggle to finish.
Flor Plache
Apr 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
I found myself skipping thru the book,it was really boring took forever to get to the main plot of the book and when it finally did there was no excitement or desire to keep reading or keeping me in edge the only reason I even finished this book was because I hate not finishing book.
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! Crazy!
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-books
Decent first novel. Interesting story. This book was selected as a Kansas Notable book for 2017.
Zu Y
May 04, 2020 rated it liked it
About a family torn apart, struggling parents n eventually connected back after a tragedy..
A good read, quite slowww moving.
Kewanna Cigales
Mar 19, 2016 rated it liked it
There are plenty of secrets in the town of Leavenworth, Kansas, the setting of Cote Smith’s debut novel Hurt People. Four prisons dominate the lives of residents, civilian and inmate alike, leaving them downtrodden and aching for freedom. According to the narrator, “(E)veryone ended up either directly in prison, as the prisoner or the guard, or became tied to a prison in a hazy way, some way no one talked about our could put a finger on, which made it even worse.” Eventually, the malaise of livi ...more
Karen Germain
Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Thank You to FSG Originals for providing me with an advanced copy of Cote Smith's Hurt People, in exchange for an honest review.

PLOT- Set in the late 80's in the prison town of Leavenworth, Kansas, Cote Smith's debut novel, Hurt People is the story of a broken family. Two young brothers split the time between their recently divorced parents. Their father, a cop, is on the hunt for an escaped murderer dubbed, The Stranger. Their mother, works at a golf course that is filled with co-workers who ha
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Apparently this book like, just came out. I borrowed it from my library after the Overdrive app recommended it. Hurt People is Cote Smith's debut as a novelist, and I'm excited/terrified to see what he comes up with next.
“(E)veryone ended up either directly in prison, as the prisoner or the guard, or became tied to a prison in a hazy way, some way no one talked about our could put a finger on, which made it even worse.”

Set in 1988 in Leavenworth, Kansas (yeah, with all the prisons), Hurt People
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Hurt People, in exchange for an honest review.

In the summer of 1998, two brothers spend their days either at the pool in their apartment complex or dreaming of their next time relaxing in the cool water. The sudden appearance of a young man, Chris, threatens the bond between the brothers, as Chris has taken a liking to the older boy. When their Mom gets involved with a man that they both despise, the older brother act
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Hurt People is a bit of a coming-of-age story, although not in the traditional sense. Told from the younger brother's point of view, we glimpse a broken and well, hurt family that so desperately wants to connect with each other but isn't quite sure how to do it.

It's summer in Leavenworth, KS, and two young brothers who are trying to find their place in their family and in the world spend their time hanging around their apartment and sneaking out to the pool, while their mother works odd hours a
Matt Lewis
Apr 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a harrowing story. Being a kid is so fundamentally terrifying, and Cote Smith really nails how vulnerable and hostile a childhood of the eighties in Leavenworth, TX must have been. The sibling rivalry, the danger of adults, the desperation of lower-class living, all of it darkly rendered like an oil painting of a gathering storm on the prairie. VHS tapes, roaches, crumbling drywall. Toys worn with use scattered across dirty carpet. The stillness of a pool on the edge of a treeline in the la ...more
Apr 12, 2016 rated it liked it

I am giving this book 3 stars, as I think the writing is good, and the author shows promise (I read that this is his 1st novel). The problem for me was that the story meandered around without much tension being built.

Our narrator is the younger of two brothers who are living in a prison town in the late 1980's. Their parents are separated, and the mother works long hours. They see their father, a policeman, on week ends. The two young boys are mostly left to themselves, and their main focus is
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Cote Smith grew up in Leavenworth, Kansas, and on various army bases around the country. He earned his MFA from the University of Kansas, and his stories have been featured in One Story, Crazyhorse, and FiveChapters, among other publications. His first novel, Hurt People, was a Finalist for the 2017 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, longlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Pr ...more

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