Published by ECW Press on April 3rd 2018
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“How is it that we forget? How do we turn what we know to be true into lies and the lies into new truths”
On a cold day in November, two women go missing. The year is 1967 and the women are Bette Parsons, a married mother of five and the other, Alice McFee, a woman married to a strange man who seems to give everyone the “creeps”. The local community fears the worse and the rumor mill has the women abducted by drifters and murdered by angry husbands. No trace of the women have been found and local law enforcement officials can neither find the women nor determine if foul play was involved in their disappearance. There is a local woman, Doris Tenpenny, who sells eggs to the community. She listens to people’s secrets all the while keeping a few of her own. She communicates by writing on a piece of paper. People feel safe telling her things but in this case, when questioned by the police, even she has no idea where the women are or if they are even alive.
Bette Parson’s ten year old daughter, Lulu Parsons finds a note on the kitchen table which reads “I will not live in a tarpaper shack for the rest of my life . . .” She does not tell anyone in her family about the note and eventually buries it in a field. She keeps her secret (and a couple others) for most of her life and then later, at the age of 50, she learns she is not alone in keeping secrets.
This book could very well be a mystery; and to a small degree it is, but it is also a quiet study on choices. The choices we make to keep a secret, the choices we make out of shame, choices made out of embarrassment, choices made out of desperation, and how those choices can impact not only an individual’s life but the lives of those around them.
Lulu lives with her secrets as her life spirals during her childhood and adolescence. She is not really monitored closely as the entire family is dealing with grief and she makes some reckless and dangerous choices. As she becomes an adult, she drifts from one place to the next following work. She is a musician by trade and rarely comes home but finally, after a tragedy, she comes home to face the truth.
This book is a quiet book about loss, secrets, finding happiness and moving on. Although most of the books focus is on Lulu and Doris, the other characters in the book are significant as well. Through them we learn about life in this quiet town, how people deal with loss and grief. How one person’s actions can have a resounding effect on the lives of others. Atmospheric and thoughtful, this book is a character study on childhood attachments, secrets, loss, love, pain, grief and family.
So where are the missing women? Are they alive? Are the dead? One will need to read the book to find the answers to those questions.
**There is molestation in the book which may serve as a trigger for some. The molestation is not graphic but still may upset some.
I received a copy of this book from ECW Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for making this book available.