Maddy is a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother, host of excellent parties, giver of thoughtful gifts, and bestower of a searingly perceptive piece of advice or two. She is the cornerstone of her family, a true matriarch…until she commits suicide, leaving her husband Brady and teenage daughter Eve heartbroken and reeling, wondering what happened. How could the exuberant, exacting woman they loved disappear so abruptly, seemingly without reason, from their lives? How can they possibly continue without her? As they sift through details of her last days, trying to understand the woman they thought they knew, Brady and Eve are forced to come to terms with unsettling truths.
I actually like the blurb above, it says just enough but not too much in terms of plot. I have to say, this book almost got returned to the library unread (it’s a week late…oops) if it wasn’t for some passionate reviews from other bloggers on Goodreads, especially Deanna’s from Deesradreadsandreviews. Of course, I now know I would’ve seriously kicked myself had I returned this unread because it ended up ticking all of my favorite boxes for what I look for in an unputdownable read.
The story begins with Maddy , who from the Afterlife, is on the lookout for a replacement wife for her husband and fill in mother for her teenage daughter after her sudden death by suicide. What we quickly discover is Maddy seems remarkably decisive, rational, and witty yet is also heartbroken to have to watch her family suffer because of her actions. How could someone who so desperately tries to communicate with her husband and daughter have chosen to leave them by killing herself? These questions and so many, many others haunt Maddy’s husband Brady and her 17 year old daughter Eve. Through their painful and strained grief, both Eve and Brady are forced to learn how to navigate each other and life without Maddy, the glue that held their family together.
Now I don’t want you to think this is a “downer” of a book because it’s actually the complete opposite. This is an ultimately uplifting story of forgiveness…of oneself and others…of vulnerability…of finding light amongst the darkness…and of love…finding it as well as losing it. The narration is brilliantly told with alternating chapters between Maddy, Eve and Brady which enable us to get to know each character so well I began to think of them as real. Seriously, I wanted to give all three of them a swift kick at different points because sometimes the pain they caused each other was palpable to me! Yes, tissues were needed. Then, there were other times the humor and sarcasm was so touching and funny I laughed out loud. The way this was all achieved was the compelling, engaging writing style of the author. The best way I can describe how the writing felt to me is …effortless. It flowed with such a quiet intensity that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough and by the time I reached the halfway mark, I finally looked up to see it was 1:00am! I love when that happens and I LOVED this book. Will Eve and Brady come to terms with and get the answers they so desperately seek about Maddy’s death? You’re going to have to read to find out and I’m pretty confident you’ll be happy you did…this is one of the best debut novels I’ve read in the past year!