At 37, Stevie Green has had it with binge drinking and sleeping with strange men. She's confused about her sexuality and her purpose in life. When her mother asks her to return to her hometown of La Jolla to help her move into a new house, she's desperate enough to say yes. The move goes so well that Stevie decides to start her own decluttering business. She stops drinking. She hires her formerly estranged sister, Bonnie, to be her business partner. She rekindles a romance with her high school sweetheart, Brad. Things are better than ever—except for the complicated past that Stevie can't seem to outrun.
Huntley gives imperfect, maddening, charming Stevie most of the narrating duties, sprinkling in brief chapters from loved ones’ perspectives for background. Loyal readers of Kelly Harms, Lia Louis, and Maria Semple will fall for this compelling novel of identity, reinvention, and the contrast between ordered spaces and hidden chaos.
Huntley has constructed a compelling protagonist who oscillates between obliviousness and excruciating self-awareness, building a complex internal landscape and allowing readers a layered understanding of Stevie's eventual personal evolution ... Stevie’s sections are by far the strongest; in general, some of the ancillary characters feel half-baked or cartoonish ... Though the plot unspools in a somewhat unsurprising way and its emphasis on self-discovery can be heavy-handed, its core is animated by genuine emotional resonance—plus a thoughtful exploration of addiction, anxiety about sexual identity, and the ways family bonds shift in adulthood ... An enjoyable if sometimes well-worn take on the self discovery/recovery novel.