Howard Kapostash has not spoken in 30 years. Ever since a severe blow to the head during his days in the Army, words unravel in his mouth and letters on the page make no sense at all. Because of his extremely limited communication abilities, a small repertory of gestures and simple sounds, most people think he is disturbed. No one understands that Howard is still the same man he was before enlisting, still awed by the beauty of a landscape, still pining for his high school sweetheart, Sylvia.Now Sylvia is a single mom with troubles of her own, and she needs Howard's help. She is being hauled into a drug rehab program and she asks Howard to care for her 9-year-old son, Ryan. The presence of this nervous, resourceful boy in Howard's life transforms him utterly. With a child's happiness at stake, communication takes on a fresh urgency, and the routine that Howard has evolved over the years, designed specifically to minimize the agony of human contact, suddenly feels restrictive and even dangerous. Forced out of his groove, Howard finds unexpected delights (in baseball, in work, in meals with his housemates). His home comes alive with the joys, sorrows, and love of a real family. But these changes also open Howard to the risks of loss and to the rage he has spent a lifetime suppressing.
Written with a luminous simplicity and grace, The Ha-Ha follows Howard down his difficult path to a new life. It is a deeply moving and unforgettable story about the cost of war and the infinite worth of human connection.