Leo – a talented architect, has lived on Ichabod Island his entire life. He has become used to being one of very few black people on the island and the fact that he is gay further influences his distinction from his fellow islanders. When he married Xavier a year ago, they had agreed that theirs would be a childless marriage. Now, with the death of his best friends, Leo finds himself the guardian of their adopted daughter Sky, just ten years old.
Xavier – thrown by the recent turn of events is bitter about Leo’s new role. He never wanted children and cannot see how their life and their marriage will succeed now. Also, Xavier is a city boy who dislikes Ichabod Island and all it entails.
Maggie – in her fifties, and the wife of the island’s police chief, Maggie realizes that her marriage of twenty-seven years is disintegrating. Her love for young Sky keeps her going on days when her loneliness threatens to consume her.
Agnes – Maggie’s lifelong best friend is fighting cancer. Despite that, she comes across as a less than likeable character who is manipulative and meddling. These traits conjure a rift in Maggie and Agnes’ friendship.
Joe – a builder, is a widower neighbour, and one of my favourite characters. He was the type of man I’d like to have as a neighbour – caring, ethical, and kind.
Sky – ten years old, grieving and fearless. She finds it a huge adjustment when Leo moves into her family home to care for her. His husband doesn’t seem to like her, and when he comes to the island on the weekends, Sky runs away and sleeps in her tree-house. Sky has many friends on the island – her best friend Frankie, her neighbours Maggie and Joe being her favourites.
Mystery Woman – terminally ill, she has returned to the island to die. When Sky and her friend Frankie leave partially finished watercolor pictures on an easel near a cliff, the mystery woman finishes them – much to the consternation of the girls.
Ichabod Island as described by the author: “Some say it sits in the shadow of the Vineyard like a disobedient child, wild and untamed, fog rolling over the land like a tantrum in wait.”
After reading Lisa Duffy’s debut novel,, “The Salt House” back in August of 2018, I knew that I’d like to read more of her writing. Though I missed her second novel, I can assure you that this, her third, was a very satisfying and enjoyable read.
For some reason I’m always attracted to books with an island setting. This one, a tiny island off the Atlantic coast of Massachusetts, made an ideal backdrop for the story.
Strong in characterization, the writing made me want to really know the characters in real life – so immersive was the story. The characters were “My Kind of People“.
I guessed very early on the secret of Sky’s birth parentage, but that in no way diminished my reading pleasure.
A book of friendship, parenting, community, and family, this novel will appeal to many. Highly recommended!This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Atria Books via NetGalley.
Publication date: May 12, 2020
Publisher: Atria Books
Lisa Duffy received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts. Her short fiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her writing can be found in numerous publications, including Writer’s Digest. She is the founding editor of ROAR, a literary journal supporting women in the arts. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and three children and currently leads a fiction workshop through 24PearlStreet, the online component of The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.