In this novel, a businesswoman at a personal and professional crossroads discovers that the secrets of her past may help her solve problems in her turbulent present.
At 31, Alissia Aruba Saxton has a life that many would envy. She works for an import company in the United States and has a devoted fiance named Tom. While she places a premium on responsibility, she also yearns for the casual spontaneity of Aruba, the island of her birth. Shortly before her wedding, she fights with Tom, makes mistakes at work, and suffers from nightmares. Believing her present problems are rooted in her past, she returns to Aruba, where she reconnects with her mother’s dear friend Rika and recalls the people and places that shaped her life. Her father, Stass, worked for the oil refinery, and her mother, Nessa, was a housewife whose dreams of attending college were thwarted by the high cost of education. Alissia was an observant child who spent much of her time exploring the island with her friend Eddie Williams and observing the men who worked with her father. However, her memories of the island also have a dark side—one that comes into focus when she examines the lingering effects of an assault and her role in a mysterious death. Novinger’s (Intercultural Communication, 2001, etc.) novel is a sweeping historical epic that explores themes of memory, guilt, and responsibility while introducing an unforgettable heroine. Throughout, Alissia is haunted by one simple question: “Is my paradise something I made up?” Her search leads to revelations that are shocking and thought-provoking. The island setting plays an important part in the novel, as well, and Novinger creates a richly detailed portrait of Aruba in the 1940s and ’50s, highlighting aspects of everyday life and showing the importance of the oil industry to the local economy.
A vivid historical epic that’s expansive in scope yet intimate in focus.