An engaging tale of family dysfunction and intractable senior citizens.

Things Unsaid

A NOVEL

A contemporary story follows three middle-aged siblings who struggle to care for their aging parents. 

In her debut novel, Paul (Women in Buddhism, 1985, etc.) narrates from the perspectives of Julia “Jules” Foster, Joanne Grant, and Andrew Whitman, the three grown children of Aida and Robert “Bob” Whitman. The novel opens as Jules is summoned to the local police station to retrieve her elderly parents after her father sideswipes a parked automobile and drives through a fence onto a soccer field. As she drives her parents back to Safe Harbour, their elegant assisted living facility, Jules fails to convince her father to acknowledge his diminished faculties and relinquish his license. She also confronts her parents about their mounting debts and her inability to support their extravagant lifestyle. Her parents rely heavily on her financial support, and she finds herself sacrificing the goals and dreams of her daughter, including a college education, to continue bankrolling her folks. As the book progresses, readers meet Joanne, the doting divorcée whom Aida always preferred over Jules, as well as Andrew, who refuses to send his parents so much as a Christmas present. Through many flashbacks and reflective moments, the siblings reveal that during their childhood, Aida was a selfish, overbearing mother with inappropriate behaviors and that Bob was aloof and sometimes cruel. Now that their flawed parents are incapable of caring for themselves, the siblings must decide where to draw the line between obligation and total martyrdom. Throughout the novel, the narrative bounces among the siblings, providing varying perspectives on the characters of Aida and Bob, as well as the multifaceted personal dilemmas facing each of the children they raised. With a grace that is absorbing and deft, Paul tackles many difficult questions, including filial responsibility, depression, marital strife, and sexual identity. She elucidates the challenges of caring for aging parents as well as the pain inherent in losing independence. The author depicts several heart-wrenching conundrums as the three siblings are forced repeatedly to evaluate their personal priorities. This book should particularly appeal to readers facing similar caretaking situations.

An engaging tale of family dysfunction and intractable senior citizens.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63152-812-5

Page Count: 270

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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