In her childhood, Marley talked Maisey into adventures for which she abandoned Maisey to take the blame. Maisey’s mother told her that Marley wasn’t real, even though she was as real as her mother to Maisey. In her third decade, raising her daughter Elle by herself, Maisey continues to be scatterbrained and unfocused, and has never been normal according to Elle, who wants her to stay that way. Elle is 12 when Maisey receives a phone call that her mother is dying, circumstantial evidence pointing to her father, a man she has always known as a gentle buffer between her mother and herself, as the cause. She must go home and untangle the ugly mess, uncovering a mystery in the process. This sets her off on an adventure to uncover her mother’s secret, revealing much about herself and their relationship in the process. The love interest has his own secrets, and Maisey is the catalyst for his family recognizing his trauma and helping him to move past it. As the EMT / firefighter responding to her family’s emergencies, he is woven into her story as an eventuality.
King brilliantly sets up family dynamics that clearly show the repressed fear of the mother and the compensating kindness of the father, and how secrets create chaos and confusion in relationships. There are a couple of slight distractions from the story: Maisey throws up or feels like it a LOT; Whenever the love interest appears, he’s described in Harlequin Romance hunky terms. Despite this, the story moves along at a brisk pace, with the mom’s backstory presented through her journal, an intimate medium that elicits sympathy. It’s a very human story full of complex emotions and motivations, a must-read!
I was fortunate to receive an ARC through NetGalley of this wonderful book.