An absorbing story of two sisters on the road.
When their mother dies in a car accident, the Chase sisters, 18-year-old Mary and 4-year-old Hannah (affectionately called Bunny), are on their own. Their connection is intense, “the line where one ended and the other began a malleable, gossamer thing,” but what Mary knows about the identities of the girls’ fathers she does not share. They leave their home and the motel their mother ran on the southeast coast to find lives elsewhere, slowly but surely trailing a kind of fate to the opposite coast. On the road, they have to cobble together funds, shelter, and food. Mary is smart, strong-willed, beautiful, and fiercely protective of Hannah. She knows how to use these powers to manipulate the men she encounters. The first of these is her second cousin’s husband, whom she blackmails for $10,000—a desperate but lifesaving move with major consequences. They rarely stay anywhere for longer than a few days until a significant stop in Rhode Island. Eventually, the choice of this location becomes clear: it’s the hometown of a boy who passed through their motel when Mary was 14, a boy with whom she is still in love. When the past catches up to them and they are forced to leave Rhode Island, it is with extreme devastation that they have to get back on the road toward their final destination: California, where Mary will work the night shift at a famous old hotel and Hannah will begin school. The fate that brought them there ultimately brings them face to face with their fathers. The story unfolds over the course of 13 years and feels throughout like one of providence. Healy (House of Wonder, 2014, etc.) takes every opportunity to surprise her reader as Mary and Hannah grow up and into themselves.
The sisters' relationship—and their resilience—makes this novel powerful when it might otherwise have been prosaic.