cover image Bad Fruit

Bad Fruit

Ella King. Astra House, $27 (256p) ISBN 978-1-66260-149-1

King delves into toxic family ties and intergenerational trauma in her hypnotic debut. As a summer heat wave blankets London, the already thin emotional boundary between 18-year-old Lily and her mother, May, dissolves further when Lily’s mind is flooded with images of a shattered glass of milk and a crumpled woman. After a doctor says they aren’t hallucinations but flashbacks, Lily believes the visions are her mother’s memories of abuse. Lily, who grew up with stories of May’s Peranakan Chinese heritage and childhood in Singapore, bends to May’s every whim, such as tasting the partly spoiled orange juice May prefers before serving it to her, and always wearing pink, May’s favorite color. Lily even goes so far as to wear makeup with yellow undertones and colored contacts to hide her eyes (“white devil eyes,” May calls them, convinced Lily’s British father is having an affair). Not long after the flashbacks start, Lily meets Lewis, a 30-something lecturer at Oxford. A former teenage runaway from a difficult home, Lewis picks up on Lily’s struggle and promises to help her get to the bottom of her flashbacks. As May’s manipulative behavior escalates and Lily seeks out the truth behind the flashbacks, King rachets up the tension in this perfect blend of psychological thriller and coming-of-age. This author is off to a great start. (Aug.)