The Center of Everything

Counterpoint. Jan. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781640092341. $26. F
In the summer of 2002, 42-year-old Polly is in the middle of a multigenerational, crisis-rich situation in Livingston, MT. Polly struggles with the after effects of a traumatic brain injury with the full support of her devoted husband, Ned; she and her family are also planning the upcoming 90th birthday of Great-Aunt Maude while a search party of townspeople continues to look for Ariel, the babysitter of Polly’s children, who was in a boating accident and is now presumed dead. As the narrative deftly moves back and forth between Polly’s current troubles and her childhood years in 1960s New York, rife with half-understood adult tragedies that engulfed her beloved grandparents, parents, and best friend, Edmund, old traumas resurface with stunning parallels.
VERDICT In this exquisitely nuanced, beautifully constructed novel, Harrison (“Jules Clement” mystery series) draws the reader into young Polly’s filtered understanding of her world, rich with happily married couples, vs. the uncertain reality of the adult Polly, coping with memory loss while slowly untangling shocking family secrets. A magnificent gem.
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