An intricately plotted debut about love, obsession, and the destruction of a family from the inside out.
It's 1999 in White Hill, Michigan, and Lydia Carroll's husband is in love with a dead woman. English Professor Frank Carroll has invested years searching for the lost works of local poet Mary Stone Walker, whose mysterious disappearance in 1939 is only rivaled by the beautiful words she left behind. When Frank's single-minded pursuit for Mary's lost poems puts his family in jeopardy, Lydia throws herself into the mystery, hoping to solve it and bring peace back to her home. But as Lydia begins investigating, her son takes action with a plan of his own. One that will bring the family to a breaking point and change Lydia's destiny forever.
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Vivid Characters and Compelling Twists
This book was really engaging. The characters feel extremly alive and real and the plot will keep you on your toes all the way to the end. You will find yourself caring about the outcome of the small, intimate, cast of characters. I was particularly impressed by the teenage boy character who is drawn in a way that I thought was both accurate and also sensitive. So often teenagers are portrayed in a way that feels really predictable, boring, and ultimately untrue, but Nicolas is not like that at all. He is a fully realized human being, just like the other characters in this book. The writing is also strong. Every few pages or so there was a line that I felt really blew me away. I liked how there were shifting points of view (thought I never found it confusing) in the chapters so I was able to feel like I could really get to know each of the characters.
There were a few important "plot twists" in the second half, or so, of the book and Vincenta really earns them. They don't feel like cheap tricks designed to keep your attention, but natural evolutions of the plot. Although I had not seen them coming at all, after each reveal I found myself thinking, "oh of course!" The final big reveal left me with just a huge grin on my face.
I don't want to give away any spoilers, so I will write carefully and vaguely...when Lydia goes out to the barn and discovers what has become of one of Frank's antiques...the scene is gripping, horrifying, and becomes a total turning point for the book. It's fantastic.
I listened to this book on audio and, as an avid listener of audiobooks, was also pleased to find that I really liked the reader. She does a great job with this book and really seems to have a strong sense of the characters.
Don't debate any longer! This book is totally worth a read!
- J. V. McShulskis