I started reading this book at Borders (shush don't tell!) half an hour before the store closed and figured it was a perfect read for my bus ride the next day. The idea of a runaway mother drew me in. It is something I wrote about in a short story I composed in high school and I guess that was enough to engage me in this story.
Pell and Lucy have lived without their mother for ten years. Their father, who was both a father and mother to them, died three years ago, and Pell decides it is time to visit her mother and bring her back into their lives. Lyra, their mother, has been living in Capri, the one city she ever felt home in, among a cast of other expats. In Capri, she gardens, despite the fact that her mother never considered this an appropriate career choice.
I loved the setting of this novel. I want to journey to Capri immediately. Additionally, Rice grounds much of Pell, Lucy and Rafe's behaviors in psychology, and this leads the story to be incredibly realistic. Lucy suffers night terrors and insomnia. Pell, a sixteen year old, has decided she wants to study psychology as it has helped her understand so much of her own experiences. All of the psychological studies mentioned in the book added to my interest. The explanation of Lyra's behavior is a lot harder to swallow. I understand why she left but I still find it hard to believe that she could live happily cut off from her daughters who she so obviously loved. The book speaks to the fact that we have no word in our society to match deadbeat dads. Women who leave are considered monsters. But are they? Nothing is ever as black and white as it seems. And in the end we learn that Lyra's desertion of her children was a lot less of a conscious choice than it originally seems.
This was a highly engaging read with very realistic characters.