A soft-spoken, unenergetic narrative of grief, anger and forgiveness.
Megan Van Dorn, nearing her 50s, has found fulfillment in late motherhood; life in her Midwestern suburb is good, and she even seems to enjoy spending hours in an ergonomic chair in an accounting office. Then tragedy strikes: Her bright, pleasant son is killed in an automobile accident. The offending driver is Megan’s childhood friend Cindy Ann Kreisler, who, it seems, has a drinking problem but who manages to avoid a Breathalyzer test until a couple of hours after the crash, and even then “her blood alcohol level . . . was barely within Wisconsin’s legal limit.” In depicting all this, novelist and memoirist Ansay (Limbo, 2001, etc.) is matter-of-fact, at a seeming remove from her characters. When Cindy Ann is acquitted with a slap-on-the-wrist punishment, Megan finds herself “terrible in my anger: strong, and fierce, and righteous. I could have led an army”; yet the reader doesn’t ever feel much of this anger, for Megan’s narration is flat and without affect, and her discovery of “the sheer cathartic power of . . . rage” is evidenced mostly by the fact that she sets a lawyer loose on Cindy Ann while she and her near-perfect husband, Rex, fulfill his dream of setting sail to the Caribbean. A year passes, and Megan, who returns home from time to time to attend to household matters, finds her rage slowly dissipating at the sight of poor Cindy Ann, who has hit rock-bottom and seems not to know how to climb up again. What to do? Well, Rex has taken to hitting the bottle himself, and to his irritation, Megan acts on that sense of pity, all of which has—well, consequences.
Effective at moments. But, for the most part, the telling is long and the showing short; not much happens, and when it does, it seldom moves.