This is pretty much a faultless novel in its characterisation, plotting, and narrative tension.
Richard Ford captures us from the first moment that his hero, Dell Parsons, begins to tell us about the bank robbery that sees his parents imprisoned. Dell himself is sent to live with a friend of his mother's, who passes him on to her brother across the border in Canada, a man with disturbing and violent political views. For all this sense of constant threat, though, Ford never tips over into sentimentality: Dell's luckless, amiable father and his frustrated, yet loyal, outsider of a mother are loving but deluded, their decision to steal is the catalyst that almost destroys their son's life. Dell's twin sister, Berner, simply flees, perhaps as much from her sibling as from the arrest, as their fractured family disintegrates.