One of the best books about addiction I’ve ever read — she makes it so visceral and real and terrifying, and shows you the damage, not just to the addict but to generations of extended family. Instead of shouting ‘Don’t do drugs!‘ at my kids when they head off for college, I’ll give them this book.

Jennifer Weiner, “By the Book” New York Times Interview


cover image of the book Cost
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

In Cost, Robinson tackles addiction and explores its subtle effects on the bonds of family, dazzling us with her subtlety and precision in evoking the emotional interiors of her characters. The result is a work in which the reader’s sense of discovery and compassion for every character remain unflagging to the end, even as the reader, like the characters, is caught up in Cost’s pace.

  • Fiction Award, Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, for Cost
  • Cost named One of the Best Five Fiction Books of the Year by The Washington Post
  • Cost named New York Times Editors’ Choice
  • Cost on the best books of the year lists at The Wall Street Journal, The Seattle Times, and the Chicago Tribune
  • Cost named spring 2008 Recommended Reads choice of the National Book Critics Circle

Cost is unusual for being as plot-driven as it is character-driven, and the assured manner in which Robinson builds toward the inevitable train wreck is matched by her acuity in bringing us inside the characters’ minds…

The New York Times Book Review, June 22, 2008

The author of Sweetwater (2003) and several short-story collections, Robinson subtly conflates nature and human concerns as a crisis brings estranged family members together at Julia’s weathered home on the coast of Maine.

Booklist, starred review

This is simply one of the most heart-wrenching and powerful novels I have ever read.

*Down East *magazine

Robinson’s vivid, sensuous prose moves effortlessly among relationships and points of view, evoking a brutal war between familial love—in its infinite power and mystery—and the mechanical devastations of pathology.

Jennifer Egan, author of The Keep

With passion, feeling, and a keen eye for detail, Roxana Robinson brings chillingly to life a family and a family tragedy, showing us how—like a luminous yet ominous landscape—their tangible visible world can coincide with the invisible tumultuous world of their emotions.

Lily Tuck, author of The News From Paraguay

With such fierce moments of anxiety and grief, this is, frankly, a challenging novel to read, but Robinson’s insight makes it impossible to break away. She has crept into corners of human experience each of us is terrified to approach: the loss of our children, our parents, our minds, the implacable tragedies that shred our sense of how the world should work. Toward the end, Robinson writes, ‘There was now a great silent ringing where the sky had been.’ Like every moment in this novel, that sounds chillingly right.

Ron Charles, The Washington Post, Sunday, July 6, 2008; Page BW07

Cost is stunning. Each of the characters is so perfectly realized, each is made known to us with such heart and intelligence. This is a very big book: the territory of family is more fragile and dangerous than any geography weknow, and Roxana Robinson has made life of that. I loved, admired, and was frankly undone by every minute of it.

Susan Richards Shreve, author of A Student of Living Things

Roxana Robinson’s Cost artfully portrays a family transformed by the far-reaching consequences of a son’s heroin addiction.

Vanity Fair

Cost is both lyrical and unsentimental, richly honest and humane—summer reading of uncommon stature.

The Wall Street Journal