cover image Blue Water

Blue Water

A. Manette Ansay, . . Morrow, $24.95 (280pp) ISBN 978-0-688-17287-9

In Vinegar Hill author Ansay's latest, a probing character study, Meg Van Dorn and her husband, Rex, struggle with the loss of six-year-old son, Evan, in a crash with Cindy Ann Kreisler—Meg's best friend from high school and an alcoholic, who was drunk at the wheel. The two file a civil suit that would financially ruin the well-off Cindy Ann, but Meg has a change of heart, given the impending marriage of Meg's older brother to Cindy Ann's sister; it's more a contrived plot device than a genuine narrative event, but it does force Meg to constantly shift her perspective on the tragedy, especially as Ansay offers a sympathetic sketch of Cindy Ann and her troubled past. Most of Meg's emotional cycling takes place on the Atlantic coast, where she and Rex have gone sailing as a coping strategy and have fallen in with various strands of lower-end sailing culture: the book's best energy is spent in places like the Island Girls bar, to which Meg eventfully repairs one night without Rex. The resolution of Meg and Rex's marital issues seems glaringly underwritten in the final chapters, but on the whole, this is a solid and revelatory novel on themes of grief and loss. (On sale Apr. 25)