The magic of madness or the sobriety of sanity—if you had to choose, could you?
Twenty years ago, Olivia fled Ocean Vista, fled her psychic mother, fled her betrayed friends. Now recently divorced, she has come home with her teenage daughter, Carrie, and her 9-year-old son, Daniel, in tow. Like Olivia, Daniel struggles with bipolar disorder. Her husband could live with Olivia’s battle but not Daniel’s. But Daniel disappears, and as Olivia searches for him, she must confront the ghosts of her past, which lead her back to the summer when she left her mother. Always a loner, Olivia never fit in. At home, her mother, Myla, charted the ebb and flow of her energies, read fortunes and spun a fantasy world in which her twin daughters—daughters who were stillborn in 1971—lived on, forever babies. Sometimes Myla disappeared for a few days. Yet life with brilliant, adventurous, unpredictable Myla sparkled with excitement. The summer of 1987, however, changed everything. While swimming, Olivia saw her sisters for the first time as teenagers, not babies. Myla ignored the vision, which prompted Olivia to grab her camera in search of photographic evidence. Eventually, she did find her sisters again, only to have them run off. Yet they led Olivia to a new group of friends, including Kandy, the charismatic leader of the Emerald Crowd; Pam, who painted Olivia into the clique’s mural; and beautiful Jake. Delighted to finally belong, Olivia was dangerously untutored in the ways of friendship. The quest to find her sisters soon unearthed dark family secrets, which shredded her relationship with Myla. Only the search for Daniel can heal the still-raw wounds. Gorgeously crafted, Cornwell’s tale shimmers and shimmies with nimble dialogue and poignantly flawed characters.
Grafting magical thinking onto gimlet-eyed acceptance, Cornwell’s debut novel enchants.