FICTION

Devotion

Ecco: HarperCollins. Aug. 2019. 304p. ISBN 9780062883223. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062883247. F
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DEBUT “Obsession” would be a more accurate title for this first novel about a young unemployed woman who takes a job as a nanny and then becomes excessively attached to her new employer, Lonnie. Ella, who is from a small town in Oregon, is the same age as Lonnie (26) but has had none of Lonnie’s advantages, much less a husband and son. If Ella is seeking her fortune in Manhattan, she is failing miserably; she’s so broke, she can hardly afford to buy enough to eat. Lonnie grew up wealthy, but this hasn’t brought her happiness. Both young women grew up as motherless children, and both seem stuck in a kind of permanently alienated adolescence. Both do genuinely care for Lonnie’s toddler son, William, but they are sidetracked by the usual toxic mix of drinking, drugs, and compulsive sex, with not only Lonnie’s husband, James, but also his friend Carlow.
VERDICT Ella has an awkward encounter with a drunken Carlow after she finally parts from Lonnie. He seems desperate and sad, a good description of all four characters, who can’t find their way to adulthood in this morose novel.

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