A LONG TIME GONE by Karen White


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Vivien Walker comes to terms with her troubled past in this sweet Southern tale of the bond between mothers and daughters.

Vivien returns to her family’s home in the Mississippi Delta to find that much has changed since she ran away to Los Angeles years before. Her beloved grandmother Bootsie is dead, and her estranged mother, Carol Lynne, has Alzheimer’s disease and barely recognizes her. Vivien has also fallen on hard times: After a miscarriage and a painful divorce, she's popping pills to mask her pain as well as calm her nerves. But she comes from a long line of prodigal daughters, and as Vivien reconnects with Carol Lynne, she learns about the heartbreak that drove each Walker woman away from home—and the strength that ultimately brought her back—as she rummages through her mother's diary and old newspaper articles and coaxes stories from her tight-lipped neighbor, Mathilda. Meanwhile, Vivien’s stepdaughter, Chloe—the light of her life—has tagged along with Vivien against her father’s wishes. Chloe’s presence brings many touching moments, notably a scene in which she lets Carol Lynne French braid her hair even after the ailing woman calls her by the wrong name. Though Vivien’s homecoming begins with an unidentified body found in a shallow grave near her house, she seems to put the mystery on the back burner as she dwells on her unhappy childhood. But an ominous nursery rhyme about the crows that perch in the gnarled tree above the grave keeps the suspense simmering each time Vivien repeats it, and the poetry takes on a different and more poignant meaning at the end.

A slow-moving mystery culminates in an emotionally satisfying moment of redemption for a stubborn heroine and the family she grows to love.

Pub Date: June 3rd, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-451-24046-0
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: New American Library
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2014


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