cover image After the Eclipse: A Mother’s Murder, a Daughter’s Search

After the Eclipse: A Mother’s Murder, a Daughter’s Search

Sarah Perry. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27 (368p) ISBN 978-0-544-30265-5

When Perry was 12, her mother, Crystal, was murdered in their home in rural Maine, outside Perry’s bedroom. Her riveting memoir navigates the absences, silences, and solitudes that follow trauma. Perry, who now lives in Brooklyn and was the publisher of Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, wonderfully evokes her mother even as she struggles to unravel the mystery of her death. In the 12 years between Crystal’s murder and the killer’s conviction, Perry tried to move forward, even as she faced police interrogations and scrutiny from officers who believed she remembered more from the night than she was telling. Perry reveals a family shattered in the wake of tragedy. She was shuttled among relatives and friends, living in Texas and then in Maine again, where she worried the killer still lived, haunting her small-town streets. Perry vividly portrays her mother, and she introduces the troubled men in her mother’s life: her estranged husband, Tom; her ex-boyfriends Dale and Tim; and her fiancé, Dennis. Other men and women move in this circle, all with secrets of their own, such as Teresa, Tom’s new girlfriend. Perry’s memoir is a testament to one child’s ability to survive the unspeakable, one woman’s ability to recapture what was lost, and a fascinating small-town mystery with breathtaking revelations at the end. (Sept.)