As a family secret festers, a father strives to connect with his adrift teenage daughter in Legters’ emotional debut novel.
Theo has raised the now-teenage Persephone, nicknamed “Seph,” since the day she was born. Back then, young Natalie, Seph’s birth mother, handed her daughter, the product of a fling with the high school basketball star, over to Theo, her loyal and protective friend, and she didn’t look back. He was a motorcycle-riding, boot-wearing, tattooed outcast, but he always wanted a family of his own. As a result, he was all too happy to adopt a child, due to his own genetic history of abuse and alcoholism. So without the help of his own parents or a partner, Theo raised Seph alone. He and Natalie remained in the same town and built lives of their own, but they made good on their promise never to tell Seph the identities of her real mother or father. But as she grows up, she starts staying out until all hours without returning phone calls, and develops a penchant for tattoos, dark clothing, and solitude. As a result, Theo worries that he and Natalie made the wrong choice by keeping her true origins from her. Seph’s habits and attitudes might seem normal for a teenager coming into her own, but Theo has a bad feeling about them, and it turns out that his fears aren’t entirely unfounded. A deep, spectacular tension propels this story forward as both Theo and Seph try to discover who they are to each other, so that they may find their own places in the world and within their family. Legters relays their psychological journeys with an acute urgency and a sense of inevitable doom (“Seph was born feeling lost”). It’s more than a story about adoption, family secrets, or guilt; it also addresses other universal matters, such as parents’ desires to be relevant to their children as they grow up and, as Theo puts it, how they can “break…the news that adults can make the worst possible decisions.” Eventually, the truth about Seph’s parentage comes out, and it’s not what readers will expect.
A potent story that offers an engaging meditation on the most basic desire—to know oneself.