To be published on March 3, 2020.
A provocative novel about abandoned faith, heartbreaking loss, and inescapable government scrutiny in the heartland of a post-9/11 nation.
American missionary and ROTC cadet Tyler Ahls, long missing in Pakistan, has just surfaced, proselytizing in an Afghani terrorist propaganda video. For Omaha nurse Elisabeth Holland, it’s a shock that her brother is even alive. Now she must ask herself a more grave question: Is he a hostage or a traitor?
Seasoned FBI special agent Frank Schwaller is asking this too. He’s come to Nebraska armed with countless hours of video, audio, and email surveillance. The object of his unyielding gaze is Elisabeth. But the more Schwaller uncovers about her—from her and Tyler’s evangelical Christian upbringing to her shattered youthful dreams to her broken marriage to a drifter—the more mystifying Elisabeth and the two men in her life become.
To find out the truth about these entwined lives—and the desperation that comes from love, fear, and the need to disappear—Agent Schwaller will discover how even the lonesomest corners of the Plains can be darkened by the long shadow of war.
From Kings of Broken Things author Theodore Wheeler comes an exploration of love lost, the failure of humanism, and the revelations of how deeply the US government spies on the personal lives of its citizens.
“A captivating, thought-provoking, and sweeping novel filled with power and depth. Set against the backdrop of America’s near-decade long war on terrorism, In Our Other Lives offers a nuanced portrayal of public and private lives and the way those lives intersect, disconnect, and become lost in translation with others. Different kinds of losses and invasions radiate through this novel and Wheeler reveals complexities of the human heart with subtle, beautiful prose that surprises as often as it delights. Engrossing, timely, and edifying, this is a novel to be read and re-read, to be treasured and remembered.”
-Kassandra Montag, author of After the Flood
“Powerful, provocative, fascinating and deeply unsettling: this novel about the threads that connect our lives and those who would hold to account this haywire of memory, love, faith, reason and understanding. I am still thinking about this one, the way it snuck up on me and how it will not let go.”
-Robert Olmstead, author of Savage Country
“Taut, knuckle-whitening, and full of intriguing questions, In Our Other Lives is a page-turner that keeps the reader guessing about its underpinning incidences and characters’ motivations. An FBI agent visits Omaha, Nebraska, to gather information about a radicalized young man who was either captured while on a mission trip to Pakistan, or who voluntarily joined up with a group of terrorists, only to find that in this Midwestern city everyone keeps a secret; that disappearances and deaths pervade their lives as surely as it does for those in the Mideast; that the war abroad is nearer than anyone imagined. Don’t miss out on this thrilling saga about a family in turmoil, and the international crisis that ties them all together.”
-Phong Nguyen, author of The Adventures of Joe Harper
“Reminiscent of the late Denis Johnson’s masterpiece, Tree of Smoke, Wheeler’s sterling novel tackles the modern world’s attempt to systematically catalog the chaos of life. This clear-eyed look at our entering a fully digitized world delivers a host of fascinating characters’ unknowing struggle within the purview of the recently unveiled Patriot Act. As they wrestle with the old questions of what to believe in, and how to ground a life if you no longer believe in anything, it becomes clear the new information gathering apparatus fails to understand the longing and need that propel each of them forward. This is an ambitious and absorbing achievement.”
-Devin Murphy, author of Tiny Americans
“Theodore Wheeler’s In Our Other Lives is wholly engrossing. I loved being pulled into the mysteries of the Ahls family, as narrated through the eyes of the all-knowing servers that see, hear, and record everything in the wake of the Patriot Act. Wheeler deftly weaves the intricate, vulnerable lives of his characters against the stark backdrop of the American plains, resulting in a poignant book that’s as human as it is political. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down.”
-SJ Sindu, author of Marriage of a Thousand Lies