cover image Holiday Country

Holiday Country

Inci Atrek. Flatiron, $28.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-88946-1

A young Turkish American woman comes of age during an annual visit to her family’s Aegean villa in Atrek’s engrossing debut. Ada, 19, and her mother, Meltem, are spending the summer with Ada’s grandmother, where Ada delights each year in shedding her California skin and the days are delineated mostly by her deepening tan. This year, however, her parents’ marriage is on the brink of collapse, prompting Ada to consider her mother anew. She worries, for one thing, that Meltem’s divided nationalities have dulled her personality (“How easily language can slip away after years abroad.... Just one more thing my father has taken from her,” Ada thinks as she listens to her mother fumble in her native Turkish). When Ada meets Levent, a handsome former lover of Meltem’s from her younger years in Istanbul, she tries to nudge them into an affair, believing it would restore the shine of Meltem’s youth. Nothing happens between them, though, and after Levent announces he’s returning to Istanbul, Ada, by now interested in pursuing her own romance with him, schemes a way to join him. This development strains credulity, and the story gallops toward a scandalous if too-tidy conclusion. Still, Atrek gloriously portrays the seaside setting, and she expertly explores the crackling tension between mother and daughter. This finely rendered debut heralds the arrival of a smart, bold voice. Agent: Andrea Blatt, WME. (Jan.)