Sycamore by Bryn Chancellor
eBook review copy; 336 pages
Sycamore by Bryn Chancellor is a very highly recommended debut
literary mystery that explores a gamut of emotions. This is compelling
In 1991 Seventeen year old Jess Winters has just moved to Sycamore, AZ,
with her mother, Maud. Jess's father has left them for his new young
wife and new baby daughter. We know that Jess disappears in December of
1991 and no one knows what happened to her. Her disappearance has
haunted the town. Her mother Maud has never given up hope that she would
find an answer to what happened someday. In 2009 a woman out walking
finds bones that may be those of Jess.
Sycamore flips back and forth in time, as well as the voices of
different characters, between 1991 and 2009. The story of what happened
to Jess back in 1991 slowly emerges, as does the current information
about the other citizens of Sycamore, the former friends,
classmates, neighbors, and teachers who knew Jess, then and now. The
multiple points of view enrich the story and give an added emotional
depth to the answers that are forthcoming as the novel progresses.
This spellbinding novel covers a multitude of emotions and subjects. It
is a coming-of-age story with all the teenage angst that this suggests.
It is an exploration of friendship and loneliness. It covers a variety
of betrayals and faithlessness. It delves into love, grief, secrets,
passions, rumors, disillusion, unfaithfulness, and hope. The novel
begins quietly, but gradually becomes increasingly tense and
complicated. These are broken people depicted on the pages of Sycamore, but even broken people search for happiness and a way to belong.
This novel is a well-written gem. The writing is marvelous. I was
totally engrossed in both narratives, 1991 and 2009. If you enjoy
literary fiction, as I do, you are going to see several corresponding
themes running through the novel, connecting past and present. If you
want to sit back and enjoy a well-written mystery, Sycamore will
also fit that description. This is a novel that should be savored. And
keep your eyes on Chancellor for more novels in the future.
My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.