This isn't a book, but I'm partially to the short lit forms (my impatience with scenery and nuance details -- get to the point).
Everytime I read Dorothy Allison's story I am so emotionally drawn into the agony of the unnamed protagonist. Her lover, Jesse, is a contrast to the violence of the protag's South Carolina upbringing. Reading the story breaks my heart into pieces, because Allison's snippets of violence are based in a reality that is so nauseating I want to scream (like the "someone" in Allison's fist paragraph, after seeing eight year old Tommy hanging from a rope in the barn...).
Or the way Uncle Matthew swang his young son Bo "like a scythe," his "head thudding [the other boys] shoulder's, their hips;" and then Matthew left him crawling "...in the dirt, the blood running out of his ears and his toungue hanging out of his mouth..." No matter how matter how many times I read this passage, I raises in me a distress akin to genocide.
Then comes along Jesse, the narrator's foil, the light in a dark crevice the narrator was thrown into as a child. The narrator ends by understanding her love of Jesse's softness and her hate for the fairy-tale life Jesse has seemed to have led. They may never have kids, and it could be the healer that the narrator needs...so that element is left to the imagination...
The narrator may struggle with a "river of names," from her past, but Jesse may help her mute the screams and flow downstream.