A darkly-comic debut novel. Helen Moran is thirty-two years old, single, and partially employed as a guardian of troubled young people in New York. Upon hearing that her adoptive brother has committed suicide, she returns to Milwaukee to search for answers.
In chatty first-person narration, Helen seems at first charmingly offbeat, but soon something—apart from the brother’s tragedy—is worryingly amiss ... Sorry to Disrupt the Peace is a riveting, tragicomic examination of a character who understands herself one way—as good, self-sacrificing, pragmatic, helpful—even when no one else around her sees her as such.
...rich with dark humor ... The question of why Helen remains alive when her brother is dead is the book’s quiet obsession ... Late in the book, Helen discovers a document on her brother’s laptop — a calm, measured suicide note that basically details everything from the past year. In some ways, this late touch is perfect...Still, it’s a bit anti-climactic. It suggests a type of closure that feels a little too easy, and a little bit beside the point. But the novel recovers its brilliantly churlish drive in its return to Helen’s perspective, and her stubborn obtuseness ... just as her brother found meaning in death, Helen finds it in life — in returning to her urban teens, in her ongoing effort to maintain the peace, her own included.
...[a] stellar debut ... Cottrell gives Helen the impossible task of understanding what would drive another person to suicide, and the result is complex and mysterious, yet, in the end, deeply human and empathetic.