cover image Alternative Remedies for Loss

Alternative Remedies for Loss

Joanna Cantor. Bloomsbury, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-63557-171-4

Cantor’s stellar debut follows 22-year-old New Yorker Olivia Harris as she contends with her close-knit family and decides to make a film to honor her mother, Eleanor, after she dies of cancer. Though she has one more semester to go at Vassar, Olivia uses her brother Alec’s connections to get an entry-level job at a Manhattan production company. There, she meets and get involved with Michel Zahavi, a client 16 years her senior. While Olivia treats the relationship as a temporary situation to help her cope with her loss, Michel appears to be more attached. Meanwhile, Olivia and her brothers are aghast that their father brings his new girlfriend on a family trip to India a few months after Eleanor’s death. After the trip, while sorting through Eleanor’s things, Olivia discovers some curious notes signed by “F” that lead her on a journey back to India to find out the truth about who F is. She also shoots footage there for a film to complete her thesis. Olivia’s self-centered brattiness feels true, but despite that she’s a charming, well-fleshed out character who carries the story. Cantor’s novel is not only full of unexpected turns but hits all the right emotional notes. (May)