The Sunshine When She’s Gone

Thea Goodman. Holt, $24 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9662-0
It’s hard to grow attached to the self-absorbed couple at the helm of Goodman’s first novel. Though 30-somethings Veronica and John are new parents, their actions are more like those of spoiled teenagers. Under the pretense of letting his wife rest, John, at the beginning of the novel, takes an impromptu weekend trip to Barbados with their 6-month-old baby—without telling Veronica. “Kidnap was not the right word,” read his opening thoughts. Reckless behavior ensues with disastrous results, including a mild concussion and a sick and fussy baby. John’s bewilderment at feeling out of control surprises him, but will not surprise readers. Meanwhile, in alternate chapters told from her perspective, Veronica suffers more from guilt than worry over her husband and baby’s sudden departure, preferring instead to spend her free time with old friends getting sauced on martinis and reliving the good old days. Further shenanigans roll out on both ends—pot smoking with locals, a not-so-steamy one-night stand with an ex-lover—but by the time John returns to New York, sheepish but rejuvenated, and the truth finally spills into the open, it’s hard to care. Nonetheless, this is a sobering tale of two people discovering what it means to be a parent. Agent: Elyse Cheney, the Elyse Cheney Agency. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/04/2013
Release date: 03/05/2013
Genre: Fiction
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