Watching You Without Me

Lynn Coady. Knopf, $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-525-65843-6
Canadian author Coady’s unsettling tale of a clingy family caregiver (after the collection Hellgoing) explores a woman’s grief over the death of her mother and her struggle to take care of her intellectually disabled sister. Karen Petrie, a 40-something lawyer, returns to Nova Scotia from Toronto after her mother, Irene, dies from cancer, to settle her older sister, Kelli, into the care facility Irene had chosen for her. At the urging of Kelli’s caregiver, Trevor, who Kelli is always overjoyed to see, Karen hesitates at finalizing Kelli’s move. Trevor possesses his own key to the house and makes unscheduled visits, leading Karen to believe his claims that he was close to their mother, while Karen decides to take care of Kelli until a bed opens in another facility. When social services calls Karen to follow up on an anonymous tip about Kelli’s well-being, Karen leans more on Trevor, ignoring red flags, such as a creeping sense that Trevor had briefly kidnapped Karen and Kelli after a tour of another facility, until his behavior becomes alarming. Karen’s sardonic, retrospective narration highlights how her grief clouded her judgment of Trevor, and Coady impresses with her careful, humane characterization of Kelli. This stands out for its incisive, bleakly humorous look at gullibility and the complexities of guilt. Agent: Christy Fletcher, Fletcher & Company. (July)
Reviewed on : 05/01/2020
Release date: 07/07/2020
Genre: Fiction
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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