In this stunning debut, Hecke delivers a moving chronicle of one family’s struggles as old secrets come to surface and unravel their lives. Trying to convince her parents to let her rent her own apartment after finishing the first year of college, Rachel’s life is turned upside down when a class on gender and violence unearths painful memories of childhood. But what infuriates her more is her mother Colleen’s obvious disregard of her feelings as she turns a blind eye to her husband’s past mistakes. With their family at the brink of breaking up, the two must find a way to protect eight-year-old Izzy, Rachel’s younger sister, from the fallout of this conflict. Colleen’s impractical dream of reconciliation after Dennis’s betrayal is sketched with credibility, and through her readers are able to see how denial can make a person blind to others’ obvious faults, causing them to make bad choices in an effort to justify their self-delusionary behavior. The enduring friendship between the women in the story adds warmth to otherwise deeply upsetting and dark narrative.
Hecke doesn’t shy from the messiness of incest and childhood sexual abuse, and though Colleen’s reckless behavior is maddening, the narrative is all the more effective for its boldness. This is a dark and unforgettable tale.