February 13, 2006
Bestselling author Macomber (There's Something About Christmas
) explores the intricate dynamics of family with sincerity and wit in this well-crafted novel. At 50, Seattleite Susannah Nelson is unsatisfied with her American dream: she's got a devoted husband, two teenage children and a rewarding career teaching fifth grade. She's also got a recently deceased father, a mother increasingly unable to care for herself,and recurring dreams about her high school sweetheart, Jake Presley, who disappeared around the time of the death of her brother, Doug, 30 years ago. Returning to her hometown of Colville, Wash., over the summer to look after her mother, Susannah has an ulterior motive: to find Jake. As she orchestrates her mother's rocky move to a nursing home and tries to keep track of her household (particularly her petulant daughter, recently taken with shiftless townie Troy Nance), Susannah picks up Jake's trail with the help of a private investigator and a childhood friend. As tension mounts between Susannah and her family, she uncovers the shocking details of Jake's disappearance—and of Doug's death—and ultimately faces her long-buried resentment toward her father. Macomber excels at detailing family conflict and the resulting tangle of regret and anger, but her God's-eye-view keeps her characters at arm's length, showing readers their emotional complexity rather than providing a view from within.