“‘To have a child is to open an account at the heartbreak bank…'”

August 29, 2017 at 7:31 pm (Book review, books)

Liv makes the above pronouncement one night to her husband Benjamin. They’re on a cruise, and they’re luxuriating in bed, at that moment.

Liv and Benjamin are the parents of two: Penny, an eleven-year-old who possesses the officiousness characteristic of some girls that age, and her younger brother Sebastian, a sweet little boy whose health must be monitored carefully; he is diabetic.

Liv is speaking in the abstract. She has no inkling of the events soon to occur that will affect all of them profoundly. How could she? They’ve dealt with the initial shock of Sebastian’s chronic illness; the entire family is engaged in helping him manage it. The effort has thus far been a notable success.

Accompanying Liv and Benjamin on this South American excursion are Liv’s cousin Nora and her husband Raymond. They also have two children: Marcus, the elder, and little June, often called Junie. Liv and Nora are close, nearly as close a sisters. Nora’s mother has recently passed away, and Liv had come up with the idea of all four of them traveling together, partly as a way of consoling Nora for her deeply felt loss.

At the outset of this venture, everything seems to be fine – not just fine, even great. The adults are nearly as excited as the kids.

On the walk to the buffet, Nora linked her arm through Liv’s and put her head on her shoulder, making Liv feel excessively tall. “I love you,” Nora said. “This was a genius idea.”

And so it would seem. Up to a point. That point is reached when Nora and Liv and the children, along with an Argentine woman and her two teenagers, decide to go on a zip-lining excursion while the ship is docked. A guide, Pedro, arranges things for then. Meanwhile, the men go off to play golf.

What could be more innocent, more conducive to a good time?

I dare not say more. I’ll just quote the final line of the Kirkus review  of this brainy and propulsive thriller by Maile Meloy:

Do not start this book after dinner or you will almost certainly be up all night.

I was.


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