cover image The Very Marrow of Our Bones

The Very Marrow of Our Bones

Christine Higdon. ECW (Legato, U.S. dist.; Jaguar, Canadian dist.), $16.95 trade paper (496p) ISBN 978-1-77041-416-7

Higdon’s debut novel is a finely observed chronicle of two women’s lives. In 1967, in a small town near Vancouver, 10-year-old Lulu Parson’s mother, Bette, and a neighbor go missing. Bette leaves a brief farewell note that Lulu finds and hides. Forty years later, Lulu is shaken when her brother hints that he has his own secret about their mother’s disappearance, but he dies before he can explain. Many tantalizing questions are raised by this opening, but the book turns away from the mystery surrounding the disappearances to focus instead on the consequences: how Bette’s family and community are wounded by loss, and how they heal from it. Bette’s absence haunts Lulu through her adolescence and into her adult life as a touring musician until a death and an unexpected inheritance draw her back home. She becomes close to Doris, a mute neighbor who raises chickens, sells eggs, and keeps the town’s secrets, and they both find peace in tending animals and being close to nature. Answers about the missing women do come, but the path that leads there is unhurried, and this novel will appeal to readers more interested in the journey than the destination. (Apr.)