A missing mom, four adult kids, and a dad who looks suspicious
The book opens with four siblings, Amy, Troy, Logan, and Brooke Delaney, meeting together at a restaurant to decide if they should be worried about their sixty-nine-year-old mother who has been missing since Valentine’s Day, which was a little over a week ago. They all had received the same garbled text message from her that they assume she wrote without the benefit of her reading glasses. The message read, “Going OFF-GRID for a little while! I’m dancing daffodils 21 Dog Champagne to end Czechoslovakia! Spangle Moot! Love, Mum.” No further communication had been received.
From the get go, they realize that their dad – with mysterious scratches down his cheek – will be the main suspect if they call the police. From the get go they wonder if they should involve someone named Savannah.
From this starting point, the book goes back and forth in time. Some chapters are called NOW, and they cover the police investigation that does indeed ensue. Other chapters go back to September when Savannah entered their parents’ lives.
Most of the background chapters are told from the mom’s point of view, and Joy Delaney’s voice is what I liked best about the book. She was long married to her husband, Stan, and had these four grown kids, all of whom she completely loved and adored except for those times when she could no longer tolerate them.
I identified with this completely.
It is from Joy’s point of view that we learn about the night Savannah knocked on Joy and Stan’s door. She was bleeding from a head wound, perhaps the victim of domestic abuse. Joy thought she looked familiar but couldn’t quite place her. Perhaps she had been a friend of Amy’s or Brooke’s? Perhaps one of her sons had dated her? Perhaps if she kept chatting with this person, she’d get a context clue to figure it out? But surely, she must know this stranger. And so, she let her in.
I identified with this completely! I only have three kids, but it was impossible to keep up with the vast and ever-changing cast of characters in their lives when they were growing up.
But back to Savannah, she comes in, stays for the night, and ultimately moves in. Why? Well, among other things, she’s a great cook and starts to cook for Joy and Stan.
Did I mention that Joy is sick of cooking after having been consigned to the kitchen for over fifty years of hard labor?
And did I mention that I feel the same way about cooking?
Suffice it to say, I identified with Joy completely, and though I found the mystery of what happened to her compelling, I kept reading to see what else she had to say about family life because she always nailed it for me.
I leave you with one terrific quote: “Sometimes she abrogated responsibility by fantasizing about kidnappers bursting into the house, bundling her into the back of their van, and taking her away for a long rest in a nice, cool, quiet dungeon.”
To any wife or mom who ever felt unappreciated: Read this book.
You will identify completely.