Three siblings move to Miami, Florida from England when their dad gets a building design job there. Mom is underthrilled with their apartment in a not-so-great apartment complex, but dad is happy with his job.
There are undercurrents, for sure. [See what I did there? Undercurrents, ocean, Miami?] Try to keep up.
Fifteen year old Daniel, a dedicated runner and space and cosmos aficionado, and his father take a ‘bonding’ trip together to Cape Canaveral to watch the Challenger launch. It is clear that Daniel is really pissed at his dad. But for what? And then the Challenger explosion. On the way home, stuck in non-moving bumper to bumper traffic, dad appears to have suffered a heart attack. Daniel leaves the car to race back a few miles to an ambulance they had passed to get help.
Fast forward to the present. The three, Daniel, Claire and little sister Sylvie, plus a remarried, hypercritical mom, are living once again in London. Claire is divorced from some musician about whom one wonders why she married him in the first place, Sylvie earns her university fees by doing phone sex at home, and Daniel ….. prosperous, successful Daniel just went missing. His wife is frantic. As are the rest of the family.
Claire’s ex husband is hanging around, and she finds out through some clever sleuthing [don’t you just love the word ‘sleuthing’?] that her brother may have actually gone to Florida, and the ex offers to go with her, so off they go to Miami where they meet up with an old musician buddy of the ex, who puts them up in his apartment.
The friend and his girlfriend, and the psychic card reader, and the mafia guy on the pier and the …… oh, forget it. It is a fun and complicated story, all about choices, regret, and a Japanese system for spiriting people away from their lives they don’t want, which may or may not actually exist.
You can read this as seriously as you wish, because in spite of the campy characters, they all have heart and pain, or you can just read it as a crazy romp. Either way it works. It has a satisfying ending, where Claire tells us
We are a family subtly shifted; uniquely altered and changed. But underneath the surface, deep below the skin, our atoms have fractured and realigned. The patterns we’ve spent a lifetime sewing into place have slowly begun to unravel. We don’t refract the light in quite the same way that we did, our center of gravity has shifte. Where did they go to, those people we were last year? Try as I might, I can’t keep hold of us.
I’m not exactly sure where the title comes from. Sometimes I need an author to smack me in the face with the obvious.
Mz. Wener has a couple of other books, ….. and a band. OK.