cover image Unfurled


Michelle Bailat-Jones. Ig (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (234p) ISBN 978-1-63246-075-2

Set in the Pacific Northwest, Bailat-Jones’s latest (following Fog Island Mountains) is a captivating exploration of bereavement, guilt, and forgiveness. Veterinarian Ella has a close relationship with her ferryboat captain father, John Tomlinson, and a contained life with her scientist husband, Neil. Her composed life implodes after her father is killed in an accident, leaving Ella unable to cope with her emotions, especially after discovering John had contact with Maggie, her long-absent mother. Maggie left when Ella was 10, and her childhood memories depict Maggie as an unmoored person given to bouts of irrational outbursts. Ella lashes out at Neil over John’s betrayal, deluding herself into believing the two of them had been united against Maggie. As she grapples with John’s hidden knowledge of her mother’s whereabouts, Ella discovers that she is pregnant. Devastated by John’s death, and reeling from discoveries he kept from her, Ella becomes a destructive force in her own life. It’s only after Ella finally seeks out Maggie that she is able to chart her own course. Bailat-Jones creates a complex and nuanced portrait of a family torn apart by mental illness and of the rebuilding process, making this novel both fascinating and stirring. (Oct.)