Jenny and Amanda Ruth were best friends in a small Alabama town until eighteen-years-old Amanda Ruth was murdered. Now, fourteen years later, Jenny has traveled with her husband to China to scatter Amanda Ruth's ashes and finally fulfill her friend's dream of visiting her Chinese father's homeland. It's also, Jenny hopes, an opportunity to repair her own troubled marriage. But as she journeys through a foreign landscape, the guilty secrets of Jenny's past rise up and her life will be inexorably altered.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Fog ("Highly recommended [for fans of] authors like Jodi Picoult and Jacquelyn Mitchard" --Library Journal, starred review) and No One You Know ("Luminous . . . will keep you thinking long after the last page has been turned"--Family Circle), Michelle Richmond's stunning novel captivates with its depiction of the powerful intimacies of marriage, friendship, and family that shape our paths and the bonds of home that buoy us--wherever home may be.
Richmond's sophomore novel (after The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress) is a bleak melodrama about a young woman's prolonged grief over the death of her best friend and former lover. Twelve years have passed since college student Amanda Ruth was brutally murdered, and her sidekick Jenny has yet to recover. Jenny and her estranged husband, Dave, take a cruise on the Yangtze to scatter Amanda Ruth's ashes in the homeland of Amanda's Chinese father. Although Jenny wants to save her marriage, she rather coolly trashes it by becoming intimate with Graham, a cruise passenger who, despite suffering the final throes of Lou Gehrig's disease, manages to show Jenny around and teach her about the environmental perils facing China. Jenny's relationship with Graham takes a dark-and implausible-turn when she learns of his wish to commit suicide. Through it all, she continually relives her friendship and adolescent romance with Amanda Ruth. Her obsession with the young woman leads her to engage in troubling behavior, propelling the plot into a moral wasteland where the environment becomes the object of desire and human life is casually snuffed out. Richmond's prose tends to run purple, especially during Jenny's brooding monologues, which dominate the book ("I gaze into the dark depths of the river, looking for some reflection of the woman I am now.... But the river is opaque, and my vision is blurred"). Though Richmond poses provocative questions about grief and desire, the shallow characters and sensational plot twists don't allow her to explore them in much depth.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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February 15, 2010
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