Chances Are…

Knopf. Aug. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9781101947746. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101947753.
Upright, uptight Lincoln, a commercial real estate broker with a tricky marriage; scholarly, reserved Teddy, a small-press publisher within a university and without much of a love life; and ebullient, six-foot-six Mickey, still playing rock at age 66, gather post–Labor Day at a beach house on Martha’s Vineyard that Lincoln inherited from his mother. West Coaster Lincoln is thinking about selling the house, and this is a last chance to bind up loose ends and their frayed friendship. As they reminisce about their years together at a small liberal arts college in New England, where they all loved sparkling risk taker Jacy and nervously faced the draft for the Vietnam War, we learn more about what has happened to them since. In particular, we see how they mourn Jacy, who vanished decades ago on a graduation trip to the island, even as the narrative reconstructs her own fraught family story. The ongoing struggle to determine what happened to Jacy creates intriguing tension without imposing a mystery structure on the novel, and the result is neither a nostalgia trip nor a downbeat what-we’ve-lost complaint but a paean to life lived.
VERDICT Pulitzer Prize winner Russo returns with a bittersweet tale of longtime friendship and lost love that has a surprising--and surprisingly satisfying--ending. [See Prepub Alert, 4/8/19.]

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