In Schabarum’s (The Narrows, Miles Deep, 2011, etc.) novel, a mother and daughter are at odds following the loss of their husband and father, and a couple seeks escape after their baby is stillborn.
Outside of Kansas City in the late 1960s, the bonds between 16-year-old Linda and her mother, Clare, are wearing thin in the wake of her father’s death. While Clare worked to support the family, Linda's blind father bestowed upon her his love of jazz. The loss of her husband creates an even greater financial strain for Clare, and she’s forced to find work for Linda. Linda leaves school to help Martha and Jack, an expectant couple in their late 30s. She’s thrust into their day-to-day routine, helping with chores and housework while Martha is on bed rest. When Jack is away on business, Linda and Clare rush to Martha just in time to help deliver her stillborn baby. Linda’s presence becomes a calming force for Martha and Jack as they rebuild themselves and their relationship after the loss of their child. Jack buys an Airstream trailer and makes plans with Martha to leave their life behind and go “streaming.” Jack loves it: “From a service manager’s point of view [Jack] had an appreciation for how everything was put together: no wasted space, easy to maintain, easy to fix. He marveled at its simplicity.” Meanwhile, Linda and Clare, still ravaged by loss, are both tempted by the freedom of a life apart from one another. With no wasted space yet plenty of emotion, the simplicity of Schabarum’s writing is a marvel. Compact sentences brim with an appreciation for character and the lonely expanse of suburban life. The constantly shifting characters become inextricably linked in different ways, until they ultimately separate, finding freedom in loss and letting go.
A somber exploration of the confines of suburban life and the secrets that can sustain or suffocate.