"The Infinite," by Nicholas Mainieri, Harper Perennial, $15.99, paperback
The last name of the author of "The Infinite" will sound familiar to area readers. There's a reason. Nicholas Mainieri is the son of LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri. He's also an assistant professor of English at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux.
The younger Mainieri sets his debut novel in post-Katrina New Orleans, where Jonah and Luz meet and fall in love. When Luz gets pregnant, however, her father, an undocumented worker eking out a living from construction work, sends her back to her grandmother in Mexico. Jonah decides to follow her, to commit to building a future with her and their unborn child. Meanwhile, Luz is abducted by a drug dealer, a narco, who has declared war on his former cartel employer.
Both Luz and Jonah face tough decisions to keep their hopes for the future alive in a world where “sometimes the wrong turn is the only turn offered.”
Although "The Infinite" is the story of young lovers, it is not much of a love story, and, to its credit, it is certainly not a story of a man rescuing a damsel in distress from a savage country.
This is Luz's story as she makes a daring escape and brings vengeance upon her captors. Her resolve and her journey become central, while Jonah fades into the background, to such an extent that the resolution of his personal arc is underwhelming compared to Luz’s exhilarating fight for survival and freedom. She is so far out of his league.
Readers seeking an against-all-odds romance may be frustrated with "The Infinite," and some might be squeamish about stories of brutal cartel violence. Those, however, who are interested in the daring adventures of a resilient and resourceful heroine amid the beautiful, expansive landscapes of Mexico will be delighted.