cover image Things Don’t Break on Their Own

Things Don’t Break on Their Own

Sarah Easter Collins. Crown, $28 (272p) ISBN 978-0-593-79833-1

A stray comment at a dinner party proves seismic in Easter Collins’s devastating debut. After Willa Martenwood’s younger sister, Laika, goes missing near their wealthy family’s London home, a teenage Willa escapes the ensuing media circus by transferring to a boarding school. There, she becomes friends and secret lovers with her roommate, Robyn Bee. Twenty-two years later, Robyn is a happily married mother of three, while Willa is engaged to boorish cad Jamie and remains obsessed with finding Laika, whom she believes is still alive. When Robyn invites Willa to a dinner party she and her wife, Cat, are hosting, Cat bristles; she’s jealous of Willa and fears Jamie will ruin the night. Still, the evening goes smoothly enough­—until one guest makes an offhand remark regarding the thesis they’re working on about the corruptibility of memory, which sends Willa down a rabbit hole and eventually convinces her that Laika might be closer than she thought. In kaleidoscopic first-person narration that alternates between Robyn and Willa’s perspectives, Easter Collins skips back and forth in time, imparting details about each woman’s past and fleshing out their characters at a steady clip. Though the plot goes to some far-fetched places, evocative prose holds the whole thing together, and Easter Collins enriches the mystery with some thoughtful reflections on the rippling effects of domestic violence. It’s an auspicious start. Agent: Felicity Blunt, Curtis Brown U.K. (July)