Where I Can’t Follow

Ashley Bloom. Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-72822-639-2
Bloom’s mild sophomore effort (after Every Bone a Prayer) explores the perils of mental illness and addiction in rural Blackdamp County, Ky., via the magical realist story of Maren Walker, who is grieving the death of her mother while caring for her ailing Granny. As the bills pile up, Maren resorts to selling Granny’s pain pills, placing her on police radar and bringing up memories of her mother’s addictions. A strange little door follows Maren, a known phenomenon in town that occurs when someone might need a way out—“The doors found the hurt, the lonely, the poorest, and the most desperate”—and the only fantastical element found in the novel. With the cops on her trail, Maren is tempted to make a break for it, but her mentally unwell friend, Julie, and Maren’s on-again, off-again love interest, Carver (who is also Julie’s older brother and has a troubled past), won’t let her go that easily. The author tackles hard subjects, but only skates along the surface with easy fixes to big conflicts and characters who are flawed but underdeveloped, and the dense dialogue rarely feels like natural conversation. This falls short of the author’s promising debut. Agent: Alexandra Levick, Writers House. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/23/2021
Release date: 02/01/2022
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-1-7282-2640-8
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