A homeless youth, a singer terrified of auditions and her therapist, a man struggling with the pain of loss, come together in this tender and moving novel of contemporary, big-city life. Kix looks for marks with sad eyes. When the 17-year-old runaway approaches Cecilia Morrison asking for money, he’s fairly confident he can con the well-heeled, 40-year-old Chicagoan out of sixty dollars, an audacious request for a handout. But what neither of them anticipates is the relationship that develops. In a narrative packed with insight and empathy, Mary Hutchings Reed allows the repercussions to ripple out in ever enlarging circles as the story unfolds.
Defying the typical street kid mold, Kix doesn’t drink or do drugs. Behind his cocky, happy-go-lucky exterior lurks a heartbreaking secret. Cecilia, who lives comfortably on income from her family’s business, longs to return to the stage but crumbles under the stress and pressure of tryouts. Haunted by her mother’s ghost and the devastating criticism of a disastrous review early in her career, she seeks help from therapist Haverill Richardson, an amateur sculptor who can’t bring himself to chip into the piece of marble his wife gave him before her unexpected death. Unlike the two adults who are trapped by their fears, Kix refuses to cower even in the face of daunting odds and never hesitates to do what he must to survive.
A short-list finalist for the William Wisdom-William Faulkner Prize, Warming Up is the author’s second novel. Reed, a Chicago writer and attorney, is contributing ten percent of proceeds to The Night Ministry, a non-denominational and not-for-profit agency that serves the city’s youth and adults struggling with poverty and homelessness.