Tuesday, December 27, 2022

The Blue Window

The Blue Window Suzanne Berne
1/10/23; 272 pages
Scribner/ Marysue Rucci Books

The Blue Window Suzanne Berne is a highly recommended generational family drama about secrets.

Lorna, a psychotherapist, has a 19 year-old son, Adam and is divorced. She has always had a complicated relationship with her mother, Marika. Marika was a survivor of the Nazi occupation of Holland who also abandoned her family when Lorna was seven and her older brother was twelve. After Adam was born she got a postcard from Marika thirty years after she left. Lorna has tried for two decades to have some sort of relationship with Marika, which has only resulted in her mother spending Thanksgiving day with them.

Adam has abruptly returned from college and is going through some secret turmoil of his own. He is withdrawn, refers to himself as "A" for anti-matter, and is rejecting first person pronouns and names. Lorna has never told Adam about being abandoned by Marika and Adam has not shared what happened to him.

When a neighbor of Marika contacts Lorna to tell her that Marika has hurt her ankle and needs help, Lorna and Adam travel up to her cabin in Vermont. Lorna sees it as an opportunity to tell Adam about her past and perhaps get him to share what happened to him. She also hopes it will help her relationship with her mother.

The Blue Window is a compelling, captivating exploration of closely held secrets in a family and how they can take over your whole life. Berne skillfully scrutinizes how closely held secrets that are not confronted or openly explored can result in stress, resentment, and anger. All three individuals here are troubled and hiding something. The tension builds with the three of them being together and not trying to openly express their obvious issues. When Lorna finally confronts Marika, it opens up a flood of resentment.

The narrative is told through the point-of-view of Lorna, Adam, and Marika. The characters are portrayed as realistic individuals, and there is some real insight into their characters. There will still be questions left in your mind afterward, though. Certainly, there was more information that needed to be shared and so many things that were left unsaid or unexplained.

This is an excellent, well-written novel. I especially enjoyed Berne's descriptions and use of language. Life can be messy and complicated, but so many plot points were left unanswered. Even as some deep insight into their individual thoughts and psyche was shared, I was left wanting more closure at the end. It is still a highly recommended novel, especially for those who enjoy literary fiction.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Scribner/Marysue Rucci Books via NetGalley.

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