Wow. This book passed the lump-in-the-throat test. With flying colours. Reading the last few pages, my emotional reaction was sudden and visceral and my head unmistakably fuzzy as I closed the book.
Who do we really know for sure? How far are we willing to go to protect the ones we love?
Hannah, a forty-ish artisan wood worker, is adjusting to her life with new husband Owen and her sullen sixteen year old stepdaughter Bailey, within the idyllic confines of their houseboat in Sausalito across the bay from San Francisco.
Hannah, our narrator, is an unusual and very relatable character – emotionally scarred from her childhood, with the help of a beloved grandfather she has managed to shape the sum of her past into a kind of stoic even-footed resolve that is carrying her through adulthood. She’s strong, independent, yet also vulnerable and troubled by her failure to reach Bailey, who is (not too surprisingly) unwilling to embrace Hannah’s inclusion in what she sees as a firmly-closed-already-complete family unit.
With the sudden disappearance of Owen, amidst a financial scandal and all the associated media frenzy, Hannah and Bailey are both thrown into upheaval, separate worlds imploding in a kind of unexpectedly shared and intimate crisis.
“This is the terrible thing about a tragedy. It isn’t with you every minute. You forget it, and then you remember it again. And yet see it with a stark quality: This is what is required of you now, just to get along. “
Desperate to find Owen and to understand his part in circumstances surrounding the disappearance, Hannah embarks on her own fact-finding mission, struggling to figure out just who her husband really is, or was; what secrets he may have been hiding; and how (or even, if) she can put the jaggedly newly acquired pieces back together to find the familiar core of the man she believes she loves.
“In one way or another, this is the deal we all sign when we love someone. For better or worse.
It’s the deal we have to sign again and again to keep that love. We don’t turn away from the parts of someone we don’t want to see. However quickly or long it takes to see them. We accept them if we are strong enough. Or we accept them enough to not let the bad parts become the entire story.”
Aching with intensity, this is a terrific read which was impossible to put down, all the way up to it’s very neatly orchestrated conclusion, which hit all the right notes for me, and tied together the characters and story-line in a completely satisfying way. (And then again, there was also that indisputable lump.)
A great big thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for an advance review copy of this wonderful book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts provided are my own.