... a powerful opening to an equally powerful story. And there is a lot to compliment — from Young’s descriptions of a high desert town outside Reno to the parallels Young creates between characters ... Young’s ability to create connections between these characters is the real marvel of this work. They are each distinct from the other, but in so many ways they are the same, and the humanity Young creates in each is a direct product of this understanding ... a breathtaking read, with flawed and authentic characters who hit so close to home that at times it is impossible not to root for them, just as we might for those closest to us.
Young has crafted a story that begins with a horrific discovery and expands to explore the weight of familial obligation, the far-reaching devastation of drug addiction and the ways in which guilt and boredom can curdle into something much more sinister ... The suspense is slow and steady in this meditative, artistic take on the murder mystery—the author’s language is poetic, and her contemplation of the corrosiveness of suppressed emotion is both sympathetic and impatient: When will people learn? This is an unusual, compelling portrait of a people and a place where the future always seems impossibly far away.
This second stunning piece of redemptive fiction...puts a young boy at the center of a murder mystery and surrounds him with adults grappling with stinging regrets, karmic debts, and unresolved guilt over the loved ones they have lost. Finely woven into the narrative is a profound consideration of the transience of life, as the contemporary characters are revealed in subtle contrast to the ancient peoples who shared their same small spot in Nevada’s Great Basin, later a wagon stop for settlers on their way to California that now accommodates the unsettled ... an ideal recommendation for fans of Kate Atkinson and Jodi Picoult.
Playing out against the barren landscape of a struggling town, all this drama is worthy of a Greek tragedy, and there is also something tragic in the scope and depth of the characters' hubris and personal struggles. Young clearly has a gift for crafting complex, flawed protagonists and creating both empathy and understanding for them, but it takes a true master to also build empathy for minor characters, who would be so easy to leave in two dimensions. When a middle school bully, in teasing a teacher, becomes the target of that teacher’s anger, the way Young reveals the root of the boy's cruelty, and vulnerability, suddenly reverses everything we thought we knew. And this small example, magnified, represents the brilliance of the novel: It is at heart about the timelessness of human curiosity, the eternal possibility of forgiveness, and the everyday miracle of survival ... Electrifying, ambitious, and crushingly beautiful.
...[a] moving psychological thriller ... Through the course of the murder investigation...Young gradually reveals her characters’ complicated pasts while skillfully building suspense. Never mind a tad too much symmetry in some of the backstories. This emotionally resonant saga, firmly rooted in the high desert hills, will keep readers turning the pages.