A failed doctoral student named Ruth is obsessed with Annie Oakley and her theory that Oakley was driven by abuse she experienced at the hands of men she called "wolves." Meanwhile, Ruth discovers that a cheerleading coach at the local high school is abusing young women, and she befriends a high school student to whom Ruth is connected via their shared power of clairvoyance and time-travel. When Ruth goes back in time in a risky attempt to change events, she risks everything.
... a reckoning tale for the historical traumas that still shape America today ... An 'Indian' burial site said to be haunted by the young woman buried there. If that last sentence has you rolling your eyes, it is worth noting that Romano-Lax manages to avoid the trope’s major pitfalls ... a remarkable feat of plotting in that it braids together heavy subject matter Oakley’s biography, the history of psychoanalysis, sexual abuse, gun culture, and, yes, time travel, without becoming convoluted or pedantic. Romano-Lax so skillfully navigates parallel storylines and multiple perspectives that, even at just over four hundred pages, this work of speculative literary fiction, like time, flies by.
On its most powerful level, the book is a hyperactive psychological thriller, exploring the enduring damage done by childhood trauma and the need to mine and process it to become healthy, and the various ways in which victims do so ... psychological and historical approaches would have been enough. But the story veers into the realm of science fiction when characters start to travel forward in time, in some cases changing future events in ways only they will ever know about. Readers will differ on whether that supernatural element strengthens or weakens the story's impact. But all will find it a highly imaginative and compelling read.
Daring and imaginative Romano-Lax...puts another provocative spin on historical fiction ... [a] highly original time-warping tale ... As she illuminates Oakley’s extraordinary life, Romano-Lax conjures supernatural dimensions in pursuit of psychological revelations, grapples with the sexual predation of 'wolves' and the muzzle of shame, and dramatizes the slipperiness of memory and history, creating a compassionate, heady, and witty whirl of fact and insight, mesmerizing characters and suspenseful predicaments.