Loved and Missed

New York Review. Sept. 2023. 224p. ISBN 9781681377810. pap. $17.95. F
UK author Boyt’s first novel to be published in the States covers the themes of parenting, addiction, and forgiveness. Ruth is a teacher, and a single mum to Eleanor. Despite Ruth’s devotion, Eleanor is a troubled teen who eventually leaves home due to her drug addiction. Ruth allows her daughter space and waits patiently, until Eleanor becomes pregnant. Once Lily is born, Ruth rescues her new granddaughter from squalor and raises her joyously. The novel conveys the full spectrum of Ruth trying to mother Eleanor in her troubled state from afar, while simultaneously raising Lily. Ruth and Lily have the tightest bond; it’s the two of them against the world. Lily is the missing link for Ruth, as she has consistently been left by so many others in her life. Ruth is kind and compassionate with both of her “daughters,” and she has a tight group of girlfriends who always have her back and can help with Lily or come through if a crisis arises with Eleanor. Readers follow Lily as she grows into a strong young woman.
VERDICT Boyt has been compared to Scottish novelist Ali Smith (“Seasonal Quartet”). This tale of sorrow and devotion with a layer of hope is for fans of real-world family fiction focusing on intense situations.
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