Connie and Ed Gordon bring their family to Cape Cod every summer for vacation. It’s a rustic cottage in Wellfleet and it’s been in Ed’s family for generation. He’s a teacher in Milwaukee and loves to share the island’s history with daughters Ann and Poppy, and later Michael, the orphaned teen they adopted. It’s during their second summer with Michael that things go tragically wrong and life for this family is forever altered. It’s now 16-years later and Ann has returned to Wellfleet to prepare the home for sale following the loss of her parents. Thus begins the story of what fractured their family, told in shifiting narratives from Ann, Poppy and Michael’s perspectives.
I’d expected to gain a strong sense of place in Cape Cod and was pleasantly surprised to get that also about the family’s home in Milwaukee. That’s important because it provides much needed context for each of the family members before and after Michael’s adoption and that last visit to Wellfleet. The reaction to that one event permanently shaped the paths that Ann, Michael and Poppy chose as adults. I enjoyed getting the three points of view, especially the contrasts of like events shared by them. It was often maddening how easily conflicts could have been resolved just through open communication but it was also exemplary of how typical families operate, especially when the parents are no longer there to facilitate. However, their ethereal presence on the island was hard to ignore.
This was a tough story with immense family themes that had an underlying loveliness despite some of the meanness. The effect of tradition and parental influence was skillfully managed in the crafting of Ann, Michael and Poppy. They had strong personalities and natures that permeated the story, which was compelling, especially in a debut novel. It’s atmospheric in both settings, leaving me with a sense of the cultures that defined them, though sometimes it could be overly descriptive, slowing the pace. However, it is an interesting story that I had a hard time letting go and loved the unexpected ending.
- Release Date: June 2, 2020
- Page Numbers: 340
- Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
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(Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for my complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.)