cover image The Gap Year

The Gap Year

Sarah Bird. Knopf, $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-307-59279-8

Bird (How Perfect Is That) takes aim at the late-breaking angst of soon-to-be empty-nester Cam Lightsey in her sharp latest. As a lactation consultant, Cam guides new women through their first uncertain days of motherhood, and though single mom Cam (her husband ran off years ago to join a cult) has always been confident in her relationship with her own daughter, Aubrey, a clarinetist in the high school marching band, their bond sours in Aubrey's senior year when Aubrey ditches the band for Tyler Moldenhauer, the quarterback who rescues her from a bout with heatstroke. Two days before Aubrey is due to leave for college, she goes AWOL, and Cam has to face the possibility that all the hopes and dreams she had for Aubrey might not be realized. Told from both Cam's and Aubrey's perspectives, the narrative teases out the ever-deepening mysteries of parents and children as they grow up and apart. Bird's breezy style and spot-on observations of contemporary family life give this headlong story a fizzy energy that carries through to the unexpected conclusion. (July)