cover image Take Daily as Needed

Take Daily as Needed

Kathryn Trueblood. Univ. of New Mexico, $19.95 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-0-8263-6096-0

The solid latest from Trueblood (The Baby Lottery) is a novel in nonlinear stories told from the perspective of Maeve, a mother of two and paralegal in Washington State dealing with Crohn’s disease. “Time Bomb Baby” opens with a narrative built around ambulance rides for Maeve and her young daughter, Noelle, due to allergic reactions. In the title story, after divorcing her husband of 15 years, Maeve hires a local college student to fix up her house, while “Pack Something Black” sees Maeve planning her father’s funeral while coming to terms with their uneven relationship. A pair of stories, “Totaled” and “Self-Defense,” focuses on Maeve’s interactions with her children. In the first, her stoner son, Norman, diagnosed with Asperger’s, crashes his car; in the second, Maeve brings Noelle, now a teenager, to a self-defense class, which opens up a conversation about friendships and dating. Throughout, Trueblood confidently sculpts her protagonist, and though some stories lack spark, the book works best when juxtaposing medical and emotional well-being; when Maeve wonders if her boyfriend will want to stay with her after a Crohn’s flare-up in the novel’s closing story, her concern is palpable. Readers will appreciate the character wrinkles each new story turns up. (Sept.)