Lauren Mahdian believes her father "ruined everything, everything, everything" in Ward’s (Sleep Toward Heaven, 2004, etc.) literary novel.
Lauren is just past 30, lives in trendy Austin, Texas, with her boyfriend, works as a real-estate agent and has one anchor in her somewhat neurotic life, her older brother, Alex. Lauren’s certain her father killed her mother, a murder that occurred when Lauren was eight and the family lived in New York. Alex, even though believing their father innocent, has been her pillar of emotional support throughout their life with maternal grandparents, through college and beyond. Their father, Izaan Mahdian, was an Egyptian immigrant, a writer, but a man whose Jewish-American wife, Jordan, was the family breadwinner. In the afterglow of a party, Jordan was killed by a blow to the head. Izaan was convicted of her murder and has spent two decades in prison. Lauren's logic, and a shadowy memory, tells her Izaan is guilty, but her heart constantly reminds her that belief is counter to all that she knew and loved about her parents. The novel opens with Alex leaving for Baghdad to serve with Doctors without Borders. Alex is soon declared missing after a car bombing, pushing Lauren further toward collapse. The story grows more complicated when, in Book Two of the novel's five, Sylvia Hall leaves her boyfriend at a Colorado ski resort and heads to her childhood home in New York City. Sylvia is 41 and pregnant, and she is linked to Lauren in a manner which Lauren cannot comprehend. Lauren is a realistic, sympathetic protagonist. Her relationship with her boyfriend and Sylvia's relationship with hers eerily mirrors the relationship of Izaan and Jordan, but that remains symbolic rather than fully explored. Ward writes familiarly of Austin, and of New York City, and her writing, laced with literary prose, moves the narrative forward believably.
A captivating story of loss, forgiveness and ultimate redemption.