Scofield deftly pins down the complexities of contemporary family life, demonstrating a keen understanding of the ways kids and adults alike shut down or distance themselves as a protection from pain, uncertainty, and loneliness, even when surrounded by those who love them. Eleanor, of course, doesn’t have the luxury of doing that, as even before Karin’s death she is already enduring other travails at home: the continual presence of her daughter, Alison, living there with her own daughter, and the painful absence of Walter, Eleanor’s husband, who after an argument, has at least temporarily moved out.
Scofield renders each interaction and relationship with rare precision, power, and empathy, even as Eleanor herself must bull ahead through, in the face of Juni’s resistance to her love and Nick’s eagerness to put his responsibilities on her. Like life itself, the story continually surprises even as developments feel in hindsight inevitable. Scofield’s moves and illuminates as she lays bare these characters’ hearts—and as Eleanor strives to organize these wounded souls who can’t always articulate their needs into a nourishing, non-traditional family.
Takeaway: Stellar novel of a grandmother holding a complex family together after tragedy.
Comparable Titles: Lucy Ellman’s Ducks, Newburyport, Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A