Mother and daughter move through parallel journeys separated by time but connected by introspection in Dellaira’s (Love Letters to the Dead, 2014) latest.
Told in alternating voices and timelines, this narrative explores two young women’s searches for completion. Marilyn Miller, 17 in the late 1990s and dreaming of the freedom of college, must contend with her mother’s plans for her to become a rising star in Hollywood. Stretched to the breaking point between the promise of self-determination and the weight of her mother’s hopes, Marilyn, a blonde white girl, finds relief and unexpected romance with her enigmatic black neighbor, James. Fast-forward 18 years to meet Angie Miller, Marilyn and James’ biracial daughter, who has lived her entire life believing her father was dead. When she discovers that her mother has lied about this, Angie journeys to Los Angeles with her ex-boyfriend Sam (also biracial, with a white father and Mexican mother) to find the missing pieces that have distanced her from Sam. Exploring the dynamic tension between identity and relationships, and the realities of violence and racism (although less so white privilege), the separate narratives converge to tell one family’s story of pain and loss, love and forgiveness. Time jumps occasionally disrupt cohesion, and readers unfamiliar with the '90s may find Marilyn’s narrative irksomely referential, but overall, this is a compelling intergenerational tale.
Achingly vibrant. (Fiction. 14-adult)