Mapson follows the ever-so-uplifting characters she developed in Solomon’s Oak (2010) to their new home in Sante Fe, N.M., where they face past demons as they build their future.
Middle-aged newlyweds Glory and Joseph—she met him after the death of her beloved first husband in California—have moved to Joseph’s hometown to be close to the disabled former policeman’s large extended family. They have moved into a house that they love, although it may be haunted by a ghost they have named Dolores. Glory’s adopted daughter, Juniper, precocious and no longer even the teensiest bit rebellious or angry, has begun college at 16 and, driven to excel as an anthropology major, is dismissive of superficial dorm social life. Juniper is still haunted by the childhood disappearance of her sister, Casey, a tragedy that destroyed her family and would have destroyed Juniper if Glory and Joseph had not embraced her so warmly. Now, Glory is pregnant at 41; Joseph is completing a cookbook of New Mexican/Latino recipes; and Juniper is smitten with a spoiled rich boy from the East. Meanwhile, on a commune in Española, 26 miles outside Santa Fe, a young mother named Laurel runs away from her creepy, abusive “husband,” Seth, to get her critically ill child to the hospital with the help of a local Indian potter. At the hospital, a kindly social worker befriends Laurel and gradually gets her to remember her tragic past. By the time Juniper comes to Española to research native pottery with a charmingly geeky teaching assistant, the commune has been deserted. Juniper discovers the pot she is studying is not native. Revelations ensue.
Readers drawn in by Mapson’s warmhearted style should not overlook how rigidly she divides the line between good and evil, right and wrong.