In this self-published debut by Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author winner Joanne Zienty, centers on a dysfunctional Chicago south side family. Claire Sokol has run away from her past to Missouri at least twenty years ago where she is a mother and a girlfriend to her daughter’s father, but she is called back home to Chicago when her grandmother dies and her father needs help cleaning out her house.
Reluctantly, she returns home to her alcoholic father with her box of unsettled mementos from a rocky childhood in tow. Digging through grandmother’s things proves traumatic, as every room and many of her things drudge up memories of her past, a past full of sadness and death.
But her past is not all sadness, despite the loss of her brother early on. Her best memories are of her cousin Jamie, who was not only her best friend, but loved her romantically. Jamie was the one who protected her from the family bully, Dougie and whose mother, Peach, Claire had wished was her own mother.
Claire’s memories stretch through Jamie and her’s formative years, from a couple of immature kids to young adulthood where the complicated nature of their relationship becomes trying. The reader hopes that Claire’s time back home will force her to face her demons and learn the truth behind those family secrets buried a long time ago.
The story is engrossing to keep you interested if you are a dedicated reader, although Zienty’s verbose writing will have many abandoning the story early on. Judicious editing would have benefited this story greatly.