cover image The Blue Window

The Blue Window

Suzanne Berne. Scribner/Rucci, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4767-9426-6

Berne (The Dogs of Littlefield) offers an engrossing story of family secrets involving a woman’s estranged mother and her troubled son. Lorna is a successful therapist in Massachusetts whose husband has moved to Seattle and is living with his much younger research assistant. Lorna’s son, Adam, has recently returned from college, and she senses something terrible happened to him there, but he refuses to speak to her and instead spends his time watching YouTube videos. Then Lorna learns her mother, Marika, has hurt herself in a fall, and she decides to go to with Adam to see her. Marika lives in an isolated cabin in Vermont, and soon the three of them are stuck in a web of resentment and failed communication. Marika abandoned Lorna and her older brother when they were children, and when Lorna confronts Marika one night about her leaving them, Marika’s revelations bring up old wounds for Lorna. With chapters that alternate between points in time and Lorna, Adam, and Marika’s perspectives, the author expertly shows how secrets fester and affect the family, especially as Adam’s allegiances bend toward Marika. Though the tension ends up feeling a bit drawn out, Berne’s strong prose carries the day, particularly her descriptions of Vermont’s natural beauty. In the end, it’s a satisfying family drama. Agent: Colleen Mohyde, Doe Coover. (Jan.)