I was into this book a little ways before I remembered that I had heard this interview
with the author on NPR radio. The idea for this book is
[inspired by] an actual event that occurred in a Washington, D.C. suburb in 1975 when two teenaged sisters disappeared from a mall without leaving a trace or clue of what happened to them. The mystery of what happened to those two girls has never been solved.
In this novel the author provides a scenario of what might happen if one of those missing girls showed up now, forty years after the disappearance. Character development in this story was excellent, and the author did a good job exposing the various layers of the story in a carefully crafted manner. Obviously, the disappearance of a child is a parent's worst nightmare, and loosing two this way would be even worse. Dealing with the resulting guilt, blame and pain would surely play havoc on a marriage relationship. Then if a woman claims many years later to be one of those lost daughters, many mixed emotions are bound to rise again. There are of course the conflicting emotions of hoping that it's true versus the suspicion that she's not who she claims to be. The author lets the reader share in these conflicting emotions by not revealing the truth until the end.
The author's writing is exquisite and manages to say so much while actually using few words. The following example quotation is a mother’s observation of her children’s growing up:
“Adolescence was like a big scab or scar tissue, a gradual covering of a soul too soft and open to be exposed to the elements. “
This comment together with a couple more descriptive sentences made me feel that I fully understood the nature of this family and the feelings of the mother for her children.
This is an example of a book I never would have selected to read on my own. This book is probably considered to be a "murder mystery," a genre I seldom read. I read it because it was selected by a book group with which I participate. The group selected it because it was part of the Kansas City, Missouri Public Library's 2013 Adult Winter Reading that featured books that delve into our world after dark. Most of this book takes place in the day time. However, now that I reflect on it, some of the most important events in the book did occur at night. In the end I was pleasantly surprised to thoroughly enjoy this book. When I say enjoy, I don't mean to imply that it's a happy book. Rather it's a book that describes people dealing with a mixed-up and confusing set of emotional circumstances. After reading this book the struggles of a normal life seem a bit more manageable.