One day, Angie Voorster - all-star swimmer and college-bound student - dives to the bottom of a pool and stays there. In that moment, everything the Voorster family believes they know about one another changes. Halfway House is the story of Angie's psychotic break and her family's subsequent turmoil. Angie is a charismatic young woman - brilliant, witty, and passionate - until she swings to manic highs or dangerous lows. As Angie trials varying medications and is in and out of hospitals and treatment centres, each of her family members responds differently to the ongoing crisis. Her father Pieter, a Dutch-born professional cellist, retreats further into his music; her mother begins a destabilising affair with a younger man; her younger brother, Luke, first distances himself as much as possible from his sister, then later drops out of college to be closer to her. Their attempts to maintain an outward show of normality only serve to highlight how fragile their little family unit has become. But, it is not until Angie is finally able to fend for herself that the family is able truly come to terms with what has happened and start again, in a new, fundamentally changed way.
Katherine Noel is a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University where she formerly held a Stegner Fellowship. Her writing has won grants from the Henfield-Transatlantic, Barbara Demming and Rone Jaffe Foundations, and was included in Best New American Voices 2003.