cover image If We’re Being Honest

If We’re Being Honest

Cat Shook. Celadon, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-84754-6

Shook’s delightful and perceptive debut follows a family through an eventful week that begins with a funeral and ends with a wedding. One sweltering Georgia summer, the Williams clan has gathered to mourn the death of patriarch Gerry, but they’re thrown for a loop when Gerry’s best friend announces during the eulogy that he and Gerry had been lovers for decades. While Gerry’s widow, Ellen, wants nothing more than to deal with this revelation and her loss in peace, her three children and four 20-something grandchildren make that impossible. They’re all dealing with their own crises: sensible granddaughter Alice is pregnant and not sure whether to tell the father; high-strung daughter-in-law Jennifer is wondering whether her husband is having an affair; and grandson Red, a youth pastor, is trying to come to terms with his sexuality. Like a stone skipped across water, Shook flits seamlessly from one character to the next, and remarkably, all emerge as three-dimensional characters. Even with its many strands of plot, the novel never feels rushed, and Shook sprinkles some wild surprises into the goings-on. Readers will find plenty to savor. Agent: Andrianna Yeatts, ICM Partners. (Apr.)