A young woman becomes unraveled as she unravels her past.
When Hope and her sister from the same father but a different mother, Eden, were young they were abducted from a bus station while waiting for their father to pick them up. The kidnapper, Larry, convinced the girls that he was a friend of their father’s. They escaped, but not without physical and emotional scars. The novel takes place 20 years later. Having long dissociated herself from the family, Hope is a struggling playwright who is being evicted from her illegal sublet and who, somewhat recently, has broken up with her girlfriend of eight years after cheating on her. Hope’s mother is dead and her father is living with his new, annoyingly cheery wife. When Hope receives a letter from the Office of the District Attorney informing her that Larry is up for parole, it launches her on a quest to find her sister and to find the truth behind her memory of what happened. She—and the DA—hopes that if she can find Eden and make her side of the story known, Larry will be put away forever. Over the course of the book, in flashbacks, more details of their harrowing experience become clear. Hope, traveling in her father’s old camper van, follows Eden’s trail to California. This is a compelling tale, and Hope, as the lost and floundering narrator, is an appealingly honest, if somewhat frustrating, character. But for so striking a story, it is surprisingly lacking where is should be stirring. Kleine (Calf, 2015) falls just short of impact, or insight. As a result, the book—which has all the potential elements for excitement and originality—falls prey to banality: “I opened to a blank page and wrote: a play where the entire room is white, filled with light, completely open, with a single painted line—a thin stripe in blue painted along the upstage wall, representing the horizon, representing possibility.”
An unlikely combination of both absorbing and flat.