cover image The Anger Meridian

The Anger Meridian

Kaylie Jones. Akashic, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-61775-350-3

Jones creates a seething portrait of a narcissistic mother in this story of an adult daughter’s attempt to reconcile the appearance of her prosperous and successful family with the harsh reality of a life built on a series of lies. Merryn Huntley (the adult daughter) is awoken by police officers to find that her husband, Beau, a heavy drinker prone to rage, has died in a car accident, along with a waitress from a local restaurant. Her first thought is relief: “It’s over.” But Merryn quickly discovers that her financial circumstances in Dallas are not what they seem, and with gossip and creditors swirling, she stashes her engagement ring and her Rolex in her young daughter Tenny’s teddy bear; the two of them go to stay with her mother, Bibi, in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Bibi is a doyenne of the expat community, with fingers heavy with silver and turquoise rings, and a large red house perched on a cliff in the wealthy Balcones neighborhood. She greets Merryn with her typical brand of undermining: “You’ve never been able to handle anything in your entire life without my help. What would happen to you, Merryn, if I weren’t here to take care of you?” With an appealing cast of locals (a kind widower who owns a school, a handsome American doctor slumming it with a small children’s clinic, and a former priest-cum-yoga instructor and healer), Merryn sets about getting her life on track. Jones keeps the action churning as the family drama veers into romance and spiritual journey, but perhaps the novel’s greatest feat is Bibi, an all-too-real toxic monster of a mother. (July)