It is the summer of 1992 and a gypsy moth invasion blankets Avalon Island. Ravenous caterpillars disrupt early summer serenity on Avalon, an islet off the coast of Long Island, which underscores the tension boiling to the surface of the islanders’ lives.
Fierro is a writer capable of glorious sentences. She recalls with fastidious care the songs and lip gloss and fashions of the early 1990s, has an ear for weather and landscape, and moves her story briskly through its many cohering parts. Avalon is far from a hospitable place. Its inhabitants, monied or not, are often vulgar. Excess is its own devastation; excess is tragedy. Too much of too much — cash, sex, greed, bugs — rarely does end well.
Though the novel is initially hampered by character inconsistency, Fierro hits her stride and succeeds in creating a suspenseful, richly symbolic drama and coming-of-age story. Poignant, raw, and, at times, brutally honest about the poison concealed behind the charming facade of a quaint community, this is an intense and meaningful read.
Can the budding romance between Brooks and Maddie survive against the backdrop of racism, class rivalries, changing social mores, and Leslie’s desperation for revenge? That question is poignantly answered in a powerful story showcasing a dizzying spectrum of relationships from the deeply destructive to the supportive and loving.