cover image The Summer After June

The Summer After June

Ashley Warlick, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $23 (224p) ISBN 978-0-395-92690-1

This strong second novel, the haunting tale of one woman's heartbreaking journey into the many realms of love, confirms Warlick's talent, first glimpsed in her debut The Distance from the Heart of Things. When Lindy's sister, June, is violently murdered in Charlotte, N.C., Lindy steals June's infant son, ducks out on her own upcoming marriage and runs off to Galveston, Tex., to her grandmother's abandoned home, where she hopes to recapture the idyllic atmosphere of the childhood she and her sister shared. Before she leaves Charlotte, Lindy has already lost her job as a nurse, and on the trip she is determined to jettison as much as she can: ""leave behind being a daughter, a wife, a nurse, a good person."" But this is more than a simple journey or escape, because Lindy, who soon discovers she is pregnant with her fianc 's child, meets up with Orrin, a childhood friend, now a gardener like his father. Out of dense, elegiac, occasionally self-conscious prose, Warlick fashions a mythic world. Lindy's grandmother, Esther, lives in a senior home, playing midnight bowling games and partaking of genteel cocktail service. Lindy stays in Esther's empty house, which is surrounded by a phantasmagoric garden with hedges, vines and vegetation forming secret rooms and lush places to hide, And on Orrin's father's farm, an ark is being built that will protect Lindy's loved ones from the devastation of a roiling hurricane. Deep secrets are unearthed in this multilayered, powerful tale, as bonds between family members, lovers, and friends are questioned and strengthened. With wisdom beyond her years, Warlick shows how passionate love is tempered by heart-wrenching responsibility. Author tour. (Jan.)