Clark (Out of the Woods, 2017, etc.) presents an offbeat family saga.
As this story opens, Tracy Silver finds herself in the principal’s office of Harwich High School in Massachusetts. Her crime: pantsing an obnoxious boy. Her conversation with the principal is amicable, though, and she receives only one day’s suspension. Tracy then reflects on how, “From the moment she’d transferred here…everyone else had treated her like some kind of golden child. How miraculous she was for having survived the divorce of her parents, the marriage of her mother to another woman.” Tracy’s mom, Veronica, became pregnant as a teenager by a “college boy” mockingly known as “the Runt”; she kept the baby and even married the Runt, although she never loved him, or even liked him very much. Veronica’s story is presented just after she sees a piano fall from a building; she enters an empty subway station where she encounters a mysterious man called “The Salesman,” who takes her through moments in her past and urges her to question her actions. As Veronica contemplates these, readers learn more details of her life, including her relationships with her true love, Desiree, and her hip cousin, Michael. This back story eventually connects to the confident Tracy. It’s a roundabout way to explore the makings of a life. However, there are many pleasantly comedic gems for readers to uncover along the way. For example, Veronica, who attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, created a “venomous dirge” out of the 1994 Ini Kamoze hit “Here Comes the Hotstepper.” At another point, Veronica discovers a fully clothed sex doll at the Runt’s house. Other portions fall flat, however, such as an email exchange between Tracy and Michael in which the former asks a question about letter writing: “Why am I supposed to write Dear before your name?” It’s exactly the type of thing a sassy youngster would say, but it’s not terrifically striking; indeed, the dialogue in general might have had more impact if it were more surprising.
An inviting, if sometimes-lackadaisical, tale about the choices that one woman makes in life.