Maeve Conlon’s life changes forever when a former neighbor reveals that she has a sister.
Maeve (Once Upon a Lie, 2013) grew up in the Bronx as an only child. Her father’s devotion to “Little Mavy. The most perfect girl in the world” sent Margie and Dolores Haggerty, who lived down the street with their verbally abusive, alcoholic parents, into fits of jealousy. But is it envy alone that prompts Dolores to tell Maeve at Jack Conlon’s funeral: “You need to find…[y]our sister”? Gradually, over the course of weeks, Maeve extracts pitifully few details from the Haggertys: The child’s name was Aibhlinn, and she was sent away because she was developmentally disabled. Maeve already has enough to cope with: a break-in at her bakery, The Comfort Zone; her assistant Jo’s pregnancy; a raise in rent from her garlicky landlord, Sebastian DuClos; a promising new relationship with local cop Chris Larsson; a missing insurance check; and Christmas dinner with her ex-husband, Cal, and his new wife, Gabriela. But she can’t let go of Aibhlinn. Convinced that her sister was sent to Mansfield, a residential placement shuttered years ago for gross negligence, Maeve joins a support group for relatives of “the Mansfield Missing,” who disappeared when the facility closed. She grills Jimmy Moriarty, her late dad’s closest friend. And she confronts Regina Hartwell, who worked at Mansfield when her sister would have been there. But for all her determination and persistence, what Maeve gets in return are dodges, hedges and, as she increasingly suspects, outright lies.
Maeve’s second outing matches all the reward of being a daughter and all the challenge of being a parent with the newfound wonder of becoming a sister.