Dutton. Sept. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9780593471449. $27. F
In this follow-up to Sinking Island, Oregon Book Award–winning Emmons examines a family’s fracturing within the framework of escalating natural disaster. When Pippa Barnes leaves Sonoma for her first year at UCLA (accompanied by beloved cat Alice), her mother, Lu, feels like a part of her has been wrenched away. Meanwhile, wildfires are spreading throughout northern California, threatening to eradicate the Barnes family home and vineyard. Pippa’s father, George, is worried about his winery business, his attraction to another woman, and Lu’s refusal to take his suggestions about moving her life forward. Pippa is fearful of just about everything and finds solace only in her cat. As the crisis intensifies and the area surrounding the Barnes home and business is evacuated, Lu and Pippa are transformed by their quest not only for survival but for true happiness.
VERDICT In this poignant novel, Emmons reveals how people react under high levels of stress, capturing the reader’s imagination as she moves in an unexpected direction. Excellent for book discussion groups.
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