Relaxed, happy, driving with friends along a coastal road in Spain, Kate Harrington lies in the back seat, caressing the new life in her belly, while her friends laugh in the front seat. Suddenly, there is a truck ahead and then a crash.
Kate’s accident sends her constellation of friends and family into disarray. The possibility of losing Kate is beyond bearing. Back home in California, she’s left her two loves behind: Louis and Angela. Louis’ life has twined and untwined with Kate’s over the years, from high school buddies to lovers to fiances. Angela knew something lay deep in Kate’s heart, some wall that kept even her lovers from getting too close, something that would send her to Brazil and Spain. She got her answer when Kate sent her a copy of her thesis, with its dedication page that thanked Angela and Louis. It also forgave Kate’s mother. Yet, as Angela and Louis remember meeting Kate, falling in love with her and the impossibilities of capturing her, the pace of Trasandes’ debut novel slows. The urgency of flying to Kate’s side fades, and it seems that the longer Kate remains uncommunicative, the longer they can linger in poignant memories, the longer they can keep her alive. Unfortunately, that meandering in memories makes it difficult to sustain suspense. The precariousness of Kate’s grip on life fades into background noise, leaving Angela and Louis center stage, yet neither has the charisma of Kate. When Kate’s stepfather, Don, arrives in Spain, a battle ensues between Louis, who loves her, and Don, who abused her. The novel’s tempo picks up, yet the shift from bittersweet elegy to vengeful thriller is jarring.
Uncertain in focus, uneven in pacing, Trasandes’ novel’s strength lies in its sensitive portrayal of complex emotional lives.