A contrived debut about an emotionally confounded young woman trying to find her mother.
Casey Maywood’s mother, a former Winter Queen, always wanted to be a movie star—more than she wanted to be a mom, apparently, because in 1995 she abandoned her young daughter and husband in Two Harbors, Minn., and ran off to Hollywood, leaving barely a trace. The scandal surrounding mom’s abandonment damaged Casey’s relationship with her passive father. By the time Casey is 19, a film student and fledgling actress, it’s time to find some answers about her mysterious, mentally unstable mother, who taught her daughter to act the part of the lover without ever allowing herself to fall in love. Too late for Casey, who has just met the new guy in town, Dex Stone, from L.A., at the screening of an indie film called Two Harbors. The lovers only have a few months together before Dex is killed on a return flight to Duluth from L.A.; and when Dex’s younger brother, Kevin, asks Casey to come out to the funeral in Hollywood, she accepts, thinking this a perfect opportunity to hunt for her lost mother. The plotting grows increasingly far-fetched as the novel melds into the Two Harbors film, involving the brothers’ Gatsby-esque father and his actress girlfriend, whom both sons seemed to have shared. Casey comes up with some clues to her mother’s disappearance at a strip club, plausible enough until Benson forcefully ties the whole charade up in an incredible knot. The rich, entitled brothers have few distinguishing characteristics, while Casey is a vulnerable, dreamy, sad character whose mother seems to have robbed her of a true identity: “Aren’t we all just actors looking for the same break?” one character asks of Casey.
Moments of fine observation amid bewildering disequilibrium.