After her brother’s suicide, a young woman with a history of running from her problems tries to find a mysterious gift that leads her to a deeper understanding of her family’s history.
Maddy and her brother, Kris, always shared a close connection, even when adulthood put geographic distance between them as Maddy began compulsively traveling and Kris pursued the study of butterflies. But his decision to join the military in the early years of the war in Iraq changed that; after an accident, he came back to the United States depressed and died by suicide shortly thereafter. In the wake of his death, Maddy is drawn back to her parents’ home, where she is given a note Kris left behind for her, alluding to a mysterious gift she has to find. Her search for that gift kicks off a journey that unearths long-held secrets about her grandmother, a Romani Holocaust survivor, and the impact war has had on multiple generations of women in her family. This debut novel is lyrically written and lands some vivid passages, but the author’s reliance on a near-poetic style of prose obscures much of the plot. The connection between Maddy and Kris, though clear, is so central to the book that much of it feels like an inside story the reader isn’t in on.
A novel that seems to be reaching for something more meaningful than it achieves.