After three 30-something friends release candle-driven sky lanterns on New Year’s Eve, a small plane crashes nearby. Were they responsible?
In Scott’s debut novel, the decadeslong friendship among Aimee, Melinda, and Lou in Hensley, Australia, has tied them together from childhood even as their lives have wildly diverged. But because the lanterns they set off from Melinda’s balcony during the town’s fireworks display behave unexpectedly, Aimee, a married mother of two, becomes convinced that the friends directly caused the plane crash. She begins obsessively driving by the site, inserting herself into the affected family’s life and the investigation. Childless Melinda, who has never married, is laser-focused on avoiding scandal as the launch of her jewelry business’s initial public offering approaches and she works to take her brand global. And Lou, a once-upon-a-time teenage mother thrown out of the house by her parents, is too focused on her own daughter’s actions and choices to pay much attention. And really, with Aimee’s history of mental health problems, aren’t her obsessions always, frustratingly, groundless? Reminiscent of Liane Moriarty, Marian Keyes, and Celeste Ng, Scott’s voice is clear in this solid novel, which explores the not-so-black-and-white concepts of honesty, infidelity, mental health, and friendship against the backdrop of small community life where families and people’s choices have intersected for generations. The pacing is slow and the narrative straightforward enough that readers can dip in and out without losing track of the action. Though some characters seem to have been created just to include certain archetypes, the complexity of the female characters and their interior struggles pull the story forward addictively. There are enough red herrings that even the most focused reader won’t see the denouement coming.
Fans will applaud Scott’s painful honesty in portraying her women's choices and actions and the consequences of both.