In this family drama set against the dangerous beauty of Yellowstone, Polly is trying to get her life back on track after a recent accident when her children's teenage babysitter is found dead. Polly's head injury has scattered her perception of the present, bringing tragic events and family secrets from 30 years ago to the surface.
How can we know that our memories are true ones, especially when they’re passed down through generations of a family beset by tragedy? The gorgeous new novel from Jamie Harrison...brilliantly tackles that question, along with limning the bonds of family, the pull of the natural world and, oh yes, the distinct pleasures of food ... Memory is the real star here, and Harrison writes about it so intimately that it’s hard not to feel the same sense of wonder—and disorientation—that Polly does ... Harrison’s writing is as lush as the landscapes themselves, moving from Long Island to Michigan to Montana, with breathtaking descriptions ... Harrison’s writing shimmers like light-sparkled water, and it’s full of lush sensory details. Lavish meals are lovingly described from dinner to dessert. Polly’s musings about what happened to Ariel are as haunted as she is ... Despite the missing girl, this is no thriller. Instead, Harrison’s novel, as immersive as the Yellowstone River itself, is about another kind of mystery: the ways family connects us through the generations, the stunning secrets we hide to protect others or ourselves, and the shocking truths we must grapple with ... a waking dream readers won’t want to wake up from.
Harrison deftly weaves the story of Polly’s present life in the summer of 2002 Montana with remembrances of her 8-year-old self in 1968, living on Long Island Sound with her parents (who were often not home) and her great-grandparents ... Polly’s memories of her Long Island Sound childhood serve as a kind of welcome relief to her, as well as to the reader, and provide a background of understanding for what is to come ... Harrison elegantly yet simply paints the lives of her characters ... In The Center of Everything, Jamie Harrison has created a world so total, so real, so personal, that the reader, on finishing it, is missing it already.
... a lively narrative ... sensations dominate the narrative, from the smells and tastes of Dee’s exotic meals to sights from around New York, Michigan and Montana, as well as memories of physical closeness and warmth. The text is idiosyncratic, composed of lists and phrases, a mosaic of impressions from past and present ... Reading The Center of Everything is like traveling further and further into a dream, spiraling around fragments toward a point of love and wonder. It’s a redemptive and hopeful novel guided by earthy, reliable men, women and children who inspire and encourage.