A 16-year-old girl has been living with her dad and step-mom in Florida for 8 years, since the tragic death of an older sister in Vermont. Her birth mom in Vermont had a mental breakdown and was judged unsuitable to care for her. The girl, named Sorrow, is seeing a therapist herself and goes home to Vermont to see if she can better understand what happened all those years ago.
The Vermont maternal line goes back hundreds of years, with emphasis on the women in the family. There is an ancient feud with the neighbors who own the land next to them. The tales of the women’s dramatically unhappy, isolated, and dare-I-say-spooky lives are told in various flashbacks, as is the protagonist’s story, past and present. At the very end you finally get to the root of the present descendant’s mental troubles. This going back and forth, back and forth, especially telling unhappy stories, is mighty wearying. I sure was glad to finish, and I didn’t much care about the denouement by then.
Although the protagonist was a teenager, the story read more to me like an adult contemporary piece of fiction, which is to say it felt like a lot of wallowing in unhappiness with some vague-ish philosophical sops thrown in at the end.
I had hopes this might be one of those rare books with no ugly language, but when I hit page 102 it suddenly started up out of nowhere with a vengeance, primarily the F-word and expressions offensive to Christians.
There are two lesbian relationships that figure integrally in the plot.