cover image The Road to Dalton

The Road to Dalton

Shannon Bowring. Europa, $18 trade paper (250p) ISBN 978-1-60945-926-0

Bowring captures in her compassionate debut the rhythms of life in small-town Maine. It’s 1990 in Dalton, where the close-knit cast faces a series of problems. Rose Douglas, a waitress at the local diner, sees her doctor, Richard Haskell, after her fiancé assaults her, and blames herself for the abuse. Richard and his wife, Trudy, director of the Dalton library, have a companionable but loveless marriage; Trudy is fervently in love with Bev Theroux, whose husband, Bill, like Richard, is aware of their relationship but loath to separate from his wife. The Therouxs’ son Nate and his wife Bridget have a new baby, Sophie, a happy event clouded by Bridget’s postpartum depression. These and a handful of other characters, most prominently Sarah and Greg, who are struggling with the unique challenges of adolescence, form a colorful tapestry. By the end, an unexpected death touches everyone, a plot point that Bowring confidently steers away from melodrama, landing instead on poignant realism. Readers will want to take their time with this one. (June)