Martin continues the multigenerational saga begun in Better to Wish (2013) with this second entry, spanning the years 1955-1971.
The spotlight is on Abby, Zander and their children. Twins Dana and Julia are 7 at the outset; their 4-year-old brother, Peter, has Down syndrome. Abby’s accepted her role as mother, homemaker (in a large New York town house) and wife to now-famous author Zander Burley. Dana’s enthralled with her father and resents her mother’s disapproval of his drinking. When alcohol fuels Zander’s death by drowning, the Burleys’ world cracks open. Martin focuses on Dana’s maturation against a glum backdrop of worsening finances (sister Nell is born five months after Zander’s death) and multiple moves and new schools in New York and finally, back to Abby’s home turf, Maine. An artist like her father, Dana is alone within her family. Released to live with her aunt in Manhattan, she flourishes at an arts high school. Abby’s subsequent remarriage, a scary bout of meningitis for Julia and desultory family flares all happen rapid-fire, in chapters that bridge years and weave in (somewhat clumsily) historical events of the 1960s, ending with Dana poised for adulthood.
Despite some wooden writing, Martin succeeds here by illuminating the fraught family relationships strained by separation, financial stress and individual aspiration. (Historical fiction. 8-12)