ST. IVO by Joanna Hershon
Kirkus Star

ST. IVO

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A woman whose life has been knocked off balance by her daughter’s absence struggles to regain her equilibrium.

At first glance, Sarah would seem to have it all: a devoted husband, a Brooklyn brownstone, money, good looks (attracting attention even in her late 40s), privilege, the dregs of a successful career as a filmmaker, an agent waiting to support her next project. However, as Hershon’s novel unspools over the course of a long weekend, in which Sarah and her husband, Matthew, are violently mugged in Prospect Park and then travel upstate to reconnect with old friends—a couple named Kiki and Arman—we learn that Sarah’s life is far from perfect. Sarah and Matthew’s troubled 24-year-old daughter, Leda, has vanished from their lives; the stress caused by her yearslong absence has nearly cost Sarah her marriage (she and Matthew have reconciled after a two-year separation) and her career (she can’t write about Leda, yet neither can she write about anything else). Kiki and Arman, too, have their problems as well as a new baby daughter who stirs memories—both pleasant and painful—for Sarah. In clear, compassionate prose, Hershon (A Dual Inheritance, 2013, etc.) conjures characters readers may initially assume they know and then gently and gradually subverts those assumptions, revealing the emotions and difficulties with which these nuanced characters are grappling. Ultimately the author offers notes of hope—that the secrets and sadnesses, disappointments and distress that can damage relationships, derail pursuits, and erode lives when they are held inside and in isolation can resolve when shared; that sometimes finding a way back to one another is the best way to find a way forward.

This graceful story offers insights into family, friendship, and finding a way to move on after a loss.

Pub Date: April 14th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-374-26814-5
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2020




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