cover image The Ocean in Winter

The Ocean in Winter

Elizabeth de Veer. Blackstone, $27.99 (374p) ISBN 978-1-982674-64-9

Three sisters confront their past as a raging storm batters coastal Massachusetts in de Veer’s tense debut. The Emery sisters, whose mother died by suicide while they were children, face crises that evoke painful memories. Alex, the oldest sister, learns she cannot have children and travels to India, yearning to escape responsibilities after years of taking on the mother role. But she cuts short her adventure after discovering she’s inherited a house from a near-stranger in Massachusetts. Colleen, the middle sister, finds her perfect suburban life upended when her husband asks for a separation and, shortly thereafter, her house is badly damaged by a fire. Riley, the youngest and wildest sister, struggles with drug addiction and has become estranged from her sisters as her glamorous modeling career is ending. In her inherited home, which is near Colleen’s, Alex is waiting out the storm that spans the bulk of the story’s present plot when Riley suddenly appears at the door—only to disappear as abruptly as she arrived. When it becomes clear Riley is suffering from depression and might be a risk to herself, the sisters must sort through the past to help Riley. De Veer imbues this family drama with the mysteriousness of a ghost story and the pacing of a thriller. What drove their mother to suicide? Will the sisters ever relinquish the roles her death forced on them? This rousing family drama effectively captures the emotional turbulence of overcoming trauma. (July)