cover image Flight


Lynn Steger Strong. Harper, $27.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-06-313514-7

Three siblings gather with their spouses and children for a fraught Christmas in Strong’s delicate latest (after Want). Martin, the eldest, is a disgraced college professor married to ruthless lawyer Tess. Henry is an artist married to artist turned social worker Alice. Kate, the youngest, is a stay-at-home mom married to the useless Josh, who has recently come to the end of a once considerable inheritance. Everyone gathers at Henry and Alice’s house in upstate New York; it’s their first Christmas together since their mother, Helen, died eight months earlier. Tensions rise: Kate wants to live in Helen’s house in Florida until her kids are off to college, but she needs her brothers to agree. Henry and Alice can’t have kids; the other two families are knee-deep in child-rearing, and, meanwhile, Alice is inappropriately attached to a child named Maddie, one of her clients. A disappearance midway through amplifies the plot, but the theme of grief takes center stage, as Helen’s memory permeates the gathering. Strong is adept as characterizing this loss in all its manifestations, and in rendering the challenges inherent in three families trying to celebrate together; upon arrival, Tess “wishes this visit were over.” Of course, the drama and fully formed characters make readers feel otherwise. Once again, Strong demonstrates her talents for perception and nuance. Agent: Sarah Bowlin, Aevitas Creative. (Nov.)