Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance by Alison Espach (Henry Holt). Lovely novel, smart and sweet and racked with grief, by a writer the column has, clearly inexcusably, neglected.
The one who …
Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance by Alison Espach (Henry Holt).
Lovely novel, smart and sweet and racked with grief, by a writer the column has, clearly inexcusably, neglected.
The one who disappears is the three-years-older sister of the narrator, clearly her hero as well as her loving best friend. And she doesn’t run off; she’s killed, as a high-school girl, in a the crash of a car driven by her boyfriend, and with her sister, the person we’re identifying with pretty much from page 1, riding along.
The sister goes on with her life; she’s tough and strong, and admirable and good company, and her life is eventful. But she and we never get entirely away from the sorrow of that loss. The boyfriend survives, too, and remains a person in our narrator’s life; later, she’s attracted to him, some.
But there are no worked-up surprises or flashy ironies, here, and yet we’re never bored for a second. I almost literally miss that sister, still, almost as much as I miss the one who told this whole story to me over some hours.
Brace for Impact! A Memoir by Gabe Montesanti (Dial). Indeed a memoir, smart and sweet without trying too hard for that effect.
The person talking to us in these pages is an academic and essayist. One of her themes, here, is growing up queer, as the daughter of an evangelical Christian mother, judgmental and strict; a relationship that’s tense at best. And that’s all interesting and enlightening because Montesanti is both brainy and earnest.
She has been reasonably athletic and fiercely competitive; swimming is the sport she’s most devoted to, until she discovers, yes, and coming to the point at last: roller derby. A world (which we enter on page 1, and not halfway through as in this column), a world where even “fiercely” might not be competitive enough. But then . . . another unspoken but crucial mindset in this world is: “accepting.”
Of teammates and competitors and the world at large, whether it’s welcoming or not. She isn’t preachy about that, she presents it matter-of-factly as she relates her own reception into this diverse population—ethnically and socially diverse, but even more deep-running than that, and, as we can sense in the warmth of Montesanti’s telling, charming.
And all of that – the learning and doing, but especially the rowdy, slambang competing itself, where the writing especially shines – is altogether exhilarating.
The Key to Deceit by Ashley Weaver (Minotaur). The second of a promising new historical mystery series, comparable to Susan Elia MacNeal’s Maggie Hope novels in their setting in place and time: London, early in World War II.
But Weaver’s Ellie MacDonald is nothing like posh, or even respectable middle class; she and her raffish family are reformed crooks, voluntarily (uh, more or less) swearing off those pursuits to help Mother England in her war efforts.
Intricate and well constructed, and this central set of characters are going to be great company.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here