Moriarty’s follow-up to book-group favorite The Center of Everything again explores a tense, fragile mother-daughter relationship, this time finding sharper edges where personal history and parenting meet.
Now a junior high school English teacher married to a college professor, Leigh has spent much of her adult life trying to distance herself from her dysfunctional childhood. Raising their two children in a small, safe Kansas town not far from where Leigh and her troubled sister, Pam, were raised by their single mother, Leigh finds her good fortune still somewhat empty.
Daughter Kara, 18 and a high school senior, is distant; sensitive younger son Justin is unpopular; Leigh can’t seem to reach either—Kara in particular sees Leigh (rightly) as self-absorbed.
When Kara accidentally hits and kills another high school girl with the family’s car, Leigh is forced to confront her troubled relationship with her daughter, her resentment toward her husband (who understands Kara better) and her long-buried angst about her own neglectful mother.
The intriguing supporting characters are limited by not-very-likable Leigh’s POV, but Moriarty effectively conveys Leigh’s longing for escape and wariness of reckoning. (Aug.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.