Published: January 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: my egalley copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review
When June arrives on the coast of New England, baby in arms, an untrustworthy man by her side, Mabel—who rents them a cabin—senses trouble. A few days later, the girl and her child are abandoned.
June is soon placed with Mabel’s friend, Iris, in town, and her life becomes entwined with a number of locals who have known one another for decades: a wealthy recluse with a tragic past; a widow in mourning; a forsaken daughter returning for the first time in years, with a stranger in tow; a lawyer, whose longings he can never reveal; and a kindly World War II veteran who serves as the town's sage. Surrounded by the personal histories and secrets of others, June finds the way forward for herself and her son amid revelations of the others' pasts, including loves—and crimes—from years ago.
Given my months long reading slump and lack of books to review, you'd think I would have gotten around to reviewing a book I finished weeks ago sooner. But the it kind of got finished up with a fizzle as I raced to read books that had to be finished by a certain time. Unfortunately, it means that my feelings about the book have faded and my copy has expired so I can't even go back and refresh my memory.
Here's what I do remember:
- This is a tough book to read - very little dialogue, very few breaks on a page and long sentences that would make William Faulkner proud. Your eyes don't get a break and your mind doesn't get a break.
- As much a collection of short stories as a novel, Wallace moves the story along by letting different characters take the lead in each chapter. It's an interesting way to get the back story of each character although it can take you a long way from the main story line.
- Characters - this book is all about its broken characters, and they are all broken characters. Some of their stories worked for me. Others were harder for me to buy into. Part of that has to do with my feelings about being a mom - it's always hard for me to read about moms who neglect or harm their children.
- In the end, it's a book about a community of broken people who come together in support of June and her son. Which is all lovely. I'm just in a place right now where I read that and instead of making me feel better about the world, I read it and and think that it's implausible that one quiet girl would have the power to heal so many broken lives.
- Maybe the wrong book at the wrong time for me. But there would be a lot here for book clubs to talk about.