A young woman leaves home in search of a refuge where she can reinvent herself but discovers she can’t escape the past.
Sabina Tremper’s mother kicks her out in order to put space between Bina and her volatile stepsisters. The next day, she arrives at Catherine House, a boardinghouse for young women in Manhattan’s West Village, where her mother spent a long-ago summer that Bina grew up hearing stories about. Upon arriving, she receives a warning from the mother of a departing boarder: Don’t move in. And the questions begin piling up. Why does the house seem to have an unbreakable hold on everyone who inhabits its century-old walls? Why is the landlady so pleased to have all the rooms filled in a particular manner? Who is Bina’s new friend Monet Mathis, a reckless girl who hides behind colorful wigs? The house and its occupants have many secrets, but 17-year-old Bina is discouraged from asking questions. The lines separating reality from hallucination and outright lies is thin. Bina is a self-proclaimed chronic liar and a thief, an intersection that results in an unreliable first-person narrator from start to finish. However, her narration is quietly poetic. There’s a little diversity among the boarders, although most default to white. Bina is white and Jewish; Monet has light brown skin.
So nuanced it requires a second reading. (Suspense. 12-adult)