Tessa is praying that this summer in the Finger Lake region of New York will be a reboot for her family. Back home in Brooklyn, her daughter, Katherine, so shy and disconnected, and her son, Ben, energetic and rambunctious, have had such difficulty making friends, just as Tessa herself has. Maybe this is just what they need. When they meet the family in the beautiful house next door, they are a bit taken aback. Rebecca, and her 3 children appear at first to be the type of New York family they have been trying to escape. On the other hand, Rebecca does seem different, offering something of herself, some vulnerability that Tessa has not seen from the Brooklynites she’s encountered. Could this ben the friendship she’s looking for? Could this be her opportunity for change?
The writing in this novel is wonderful in that it plays into the stereotypes of the Manhattan upper-crust socialite and the Brooklyn self-righteous idealist – and presents motherhood and its challenges as the great equalizer. Both Tessa and Rebecca are battling their own demons — and demons do not see caste, do they? Loneliness and trauma can exist in anyone, no matter how they may look on the outside. Moreover, it can blind us to other people’s pain as well, even the pain of our own family.
I would have liked to have known more about Charlotte, Rebecca’s daughter. She is described only as “easy” and beautiful, and confident, but there is clearly more going on with her, as we ultimately learn. It might have been interesting to add a third voice, to learn what is going on in her head. She is obviously a much more complicated character, even at only 11 years old, but we are only allotted surface details.
This is a gripping novel that will keep you reading late into the night and it is also guaranteed to wrench at your heart – but, I think, you will also be glad you’ve read it!