What begins as a young adult’s gentle and sentimental narrative, seamlessly shifts perspective, gaining emotional strength as Mimi grows into a confident young woman.
Mimi’s farm-oriented family resides in a bucolic valley where life is pestered by small-town gossip that’s as reliable as bug season. Larger than this annoyance is the threat from outsiders who vow to “save” the valley from so-called environmental ruin. Years of insidious pressure fold down upon Mimi’s fond childhood memories; chronic fear of flooding, a favorite brother who returns broken after his service in Vietnam and the ever foreboding thrum of eminent domain upon their valley. Tucked in the background is the next-door Aunt who cocoons herself at home. Even when flood waters lap at her staircase she won’t budge. Surprisingly, Mimi’s mother stays unwaveringly harsh and insensitive to her house-bound sister’s irrational plight. All the while, there is Mimi’s romantic involvement with the town playboy, whose handsomeness and rapt attention blurs her academic future.
Anna Quindlen’s nuanced writing is an idyllic read that is tricky with plot twists and disturbed by the undercurrent of shaming secrets. Unresolved questions will resonate with readers long after “the end.”
(Au Sable Valley Free Library has hardcover and audio CD available.)