When she was growing up, Lane Mexler’s family moved… OFTEN! They always seemed to be starting over and her mother frequently spouted her ‘Rules for Moving‘:
1.) Take only what you love
2.) Moving forward means never looking back
3.) If you hold the door open for dragonflies, dragons will come in too.
4.) Tread lightly, so you don’t leave tracks
5.) If you didn’t unpack it in the old house, don’t bring it to the new one
Lane and her sister lived with their mother and father and their uncle Albie, who needed a lot of care… Albie suffered from mental health issues but the girls didn’t understand that at the time.
Now Lane is an adult herself. She is the newly widowed parent of six-year old Henry. Although she doles out advice for a living, showing just how wise she can be… her own life has always seemed to be on the precipice of disaster. This time though, she has Henry, and she comes to realize that for him she must face her past, her own dysfunctional upbringing, and her own flaws and insecurities. Lane is not coping too well at being a single parent, and she doesn’t have much of a support system to help her along. Although she has the best of intentions and is compassionate, others often think she is rude because she keeps to herself.
“Other people’s families always looked so happy, Lane thought, from a distance.”
Henry loves his Mum and Dad. When his Dad dies, he internalizes his grief by refusing to speak. He does talk to his Mum though – only when no one else is around. Henry is a very empathic little boy who is, in many ways, wise beyond his years. Oh… and Henry loves to draw!
Nathan is Lane’s landlord in both New Jersey and Martha’s Vineyard. He was a welcome addition to the story as he was fond of Lane and Henry despite their quirkiness.
“You want to know who a person really is, watch how they treat someone who’s different.”
This is my first time reading this author’s work and what a pleasant experience it was! The characters leaped off the page and entered my heart. Henry was adorable and I enjoyed the way that the author portrayed him – and his thoughts.
The writing reminded my ever so slightly of the work of Fredrik Backman who is one of my favourite authors.
We follow Lane and Henry from an apartment in New York, to a old house in New Jersey, to a seaside house on Martha’s Vineyard.
This is a beautifully written novel about parenting, responsibility, regrets, priorities, kindness, and how it feels to be an ‘outsider’. The narrative expounds on the intrinsic value of listening and being patient with others.
Recommended highly to all those parents who feel insecure in their ability to parent, parents who suffer from parental guilt, anyone who is a parent or grandparent, adult children of parents… have I left anyone out?
Publication date: May 19, 2020
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Nancy Star is the bestselling author of six novels which have been translated into many languages, optioned for television, and chosen as Literary Guild and Mystery Guild Signature Series selections. In addition to her novels, Star’s essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Family Circle, among other publications. Before turning to writing fiction full-time, Star worked for over a decade as an executive in the movie business. She now lives with her husband in New Jersey. Visit her website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.