A Wife and Mother Finds a New House and Decides to Move in Alone

At first, Sam delights in her new neighborhood. Like a tourist in Paris, she discovers a bakery and a grocer, “marveling that everything she needed was in walking distance.” But she quickly realizes that she has not merely traded a new house for an old one, she’s abandoned the material safety of the suburbs. Even the money Matt doles out to her — thinking the house and the divorce a momentary whim — can’t protect her, a woman alone, in a neighborhood where “opioid zombies” roam the streets and shots ring out at dawn.

But as the months wear on, Sam decides the house has given her purpose. “This was why you came here,” she thinks. “You came here to witness, to see the world and then to act and make it better.”

This is, in some ways, familiar territory for Spiotta,…

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