An absorbing psychological thriller explores how a family reacts when the unthinkable happens.
Death strikes in the first pages of this moving novel by Australian writer Blackadder (Chasing the Light, 2013, etc.). The Brennan family is adjusting to a recent move from Tasmania to a town in mainland Australia. One morning, teenage son Jarrah heads to school, artist and dad Finn goes to work in his home studio, and mom Bridget is preparing to leave for her job as a research biologist. Amid the bustle, for just moments 2-year-old Toby is unsupervised. Despite a supposedly secure gate, he gets into the backyard pool. His drowning shatters the family. Blackadder alternates short chapters from Jarrah’s first-person point of view, Finn’s told in third person, and Bridget’s in second person, as if we overhear her talking to herself. It’s an effective way of building suspense, as we learn what each one knows—or doesn’t—about Toby’s death and about other members of the family. It also reveals their extreme emotions, ranging from blinding grief to rage, from delusion to suicidal impulses. Within weeks, the family’s once-warm relationships spiral into suspicion and guilt. Friendships and flirtations seem to turn into something more threatening. Then someone is arrested, and the stakes go even higher.
Fast-moving but emotionally resonant, the book effectively takes readers inside the minds and hearts of a family blindsided by loss and trying to decide whether they can move forward together, apart, or at all.