This is the big, exciting, breakout book that readers have been anticipating from Rene Steinke, a critical darling who became further elevated as a National Book Award finalist in 2005 and then a NBA fiction judge in 2013. Here, with her first new book since all of that exposure, Steinke brings her award-winning talents to a novel that is layered, suspenseful, and emotional, appealing across a wide range of readers. Friendswood is a novel about a small, semi-rural Texas town and its social web from the adult neighbors and businesses to the high school poets and football players and what happens to when the community is divided by tragedy. Inspired by the Texas town in which Steinke grew up, Friendswood poignantly captures the reverberating effects of strife in a small community. When the town's legacy of tragedy a toxic leak that killed and sickened dozens a decade earlier threatens to rear its head again, it becomes clear that the traditions of the past can no longer guide the present. Hanging in the balance are the fates of a confused 16-year-old girl, a high school football star tormented by what he's done, his blue-collar teammate, searching desperately for meaning, a mother galvanized by the death of her teen daughter, and a morally bankrupt father trying to survive his mistakes. Driving the plot powerfully forward is Steinke's understanding that the strife that will come from extreme events like toxic leaks, lies, corruption, the abuse of power, and revenge within a small town can sometimes pale in comparison to the effects of the seemingly mundane: class insecurity, religious conflict, grief, insecurity, loneliness, and adolescent misbehavior. Focusing on four families, Steinke shows what happens in a small, Gulf Coast town when the actions of just a few people change the lives and wellbeing of many, and teenagers are caught in the ambiguity of their parents' shortcomings.