Hershon maintains a quiet terror throughout this slim, eccentric novel. Though it moves at a harrowing pace, this is not a traditional thriller ... a painful read at times; you feel almost itchy, wondering whether it’s possible for Sarah to reconnect with Kiki while also hiding the most vulnerable part of herself ... the book begins and ends with disjointed encounters that do not culminate in a clean sense of narrative arc. This can feel disconcerting, as characters are introduced one by one — some returning, others disappearing entirely. Some have a profound effect on Sarah, others she never considers again. Readers may be ambivalent about the sheer number of strangers she encounters; or wonder why Hershon includes these apparitions at all. Dynamics between the couples are messy throughout, jolting and awkward, sometimes confusing. The book does not grant us a neat, circular ending, and Hershon is not afraid of ambiguity. But for me, these aspects function as a part of the novel’s charm: fiction full of complexity, devoted to reality ... in the end, a larger sense of purpose crashes down in a satisfying burst. The love Sarah has for her daughter is so vast, so unyielding, it’s impossible to separate from her everyday interactions.
In clear, compassionate prose, Hershon conjures characters readers may initially assume they know and then gently and gradually subverts those assumptions, revealing the emotions and difficulties with which these nuanced characters are grappling. Ultimately the author offers notes of hope—that the secrets and sadnesses, disappointments and distress that can damage relationships, derail pursuits, and erode lives when they are held inside and in isolation can resolve when shared; that sometimes finding a way back to one another is the best way to find a way forward ... This graceful story offers insights into family, friendship, and finding a way to move on after a loss.
... somber, murky ... While Leda’s story of heroin addiction and betrayal is rather predictable, Sarah’s opaque emotional backdrop receives welcome bursts of illumination with brief, dialogue-driven cinematic scenes. Hershon explores with moving simplicity the complexities friendships and a marriage that has frayed but not yet died.