3 Gripping New Books About Family Crimes
A heinous or extreme act perpetrated by a person close to us may make us question everything we know about our lives. It’s an enormous betrayal when the people we cherish and defend act in ways we never would have thought possible. Families and friendships are seriously tested in the new novels in this week’s book club; some won’t survive.
What do you do when a family member becomes an ex-family member, then goes missing? Vicki Goudman works from home as an aromatherapy practitioner, trying to calm her clients with mixtures of lavender and ylang-ylang. Her life suddenly becomes anything but relaxed, however, when at the end of a session she finds police at her door, telling her that her ex-husband has gone missing. Vicki and her husband David had a passionate but short marriage, in large part because she discovered he was also satisfying his passions elsewhere — with his assistant Tanya, who became his wife after Vicki was finally finished. David had used Vicki’s epilepsy and frequent memory lapses to formerly convince her of his innocence; any time she became suspicious, she was told that she had forgotten vital information.
“A man comes toward them, whooping loudly, and dares them to jump into the lake. His laugh bounces over the water, off the pines on the opposite bank, and then back at them. He’s wearing faded pink-and-green swimming trunks, musty from being crammed in a drawer. Lulu is almost as tall as he is, and her hair touches his shoulder as he stands next to her, eyeing the spring-fed water. He is stocky and muscular, the hairs on his broad chest darker than the closely cropped hair on his head. ‘My beautiful girls,’ he says, though only one of them is his child. ‘Too cold for you?’ The other girl is his daughter, Katie — the slight one with the lank, midlength blonde hair. She feels as though she might burst when her father smiles at her. His approval is oxygen to her. It is always this way. Everyone wants to please him, make him laugh. She’d like to jump in to show him how tough she is, but she can’t.”
What do you do when your best friend tells you to keep a crime secret from your family? In Barnard’s YA novel, she explores the hazards of perfectionism and ultra-high expectations for teens. British 16-year-old Eden Rose McKinley was adopted into a loving family with two other children (one adopted, one biological) when she was nine. Known as an okay student, a little disruptive, but nothing major, she enjoys her stable relationship with the refreshingly un-macho Connor, who takes care of his mother with severe rheumatoid arthritis. Above all, though she finds balance in her best friend Bonnie, who she met nine years ago. Bonnie is the perfect young woman; she plays the flute, gets amazing grades, and is head prefect. So it’s a huge surprise when Eden’s studious friend goes missing one day — and has urged her not to say anything.