Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Fragile by Lisa Unger


A friend lent this thriller to me and in between reading YA and elementary fiction, I slipped it in needing a dose of adult fiction. Lisa Unger is a new author to me and I liked her style. This book is about a small tow where everybody knows everybody. And everybody has a secret, and some of the secrets are pretty big.

This book spoke to me in a resounding voice about families and the strength they hold. How willing are you to believe in those that you love, your children or your spouse?  Maggie, a psychologist, and her husband Jones, a detective on the local police force find out that Charlene, their son's girlfriend and the daughter of an old high school classmate is missing and the search for her brings out all manner of long-forgotten ghosts.

There is a wide array of interesting characters involved including Marshall, the son of the town bully, who waits for his dad's approval even as a high school student and even though he's only ever been disappointed and hurt by his father. As the story plays out we discover bits of history and we come to understand that a classmates' disappearance during high school has everyone reflecting on choices they've made. In alternating moments we have the opportunity to hear from several characters which help to paint a good picture of this town.

"She sat in her ticky-tack room, in her ticky-tack house, painting her nails iridescent green. She hated the tract house with all its perfectly square rooms and thin walls, identical to every third house in their development. It was like living in the box of someone else's limited imagination. How could someone reach the height of her creativity in a drywall cage? She couldn't. And she wouldn't. She would be eighteen in six months. After graduation, she was so out of here. College? Another four years of indentured servitude, living by someone else's arbitrary rules? No way. (Charlene, 19)

"Now that Marshall was nearly the same height and almost as strong as his father, Travis didn't hit him often; Marshall wasn't physically afraid of his father. It was the things he said that lay like bruises on Marshall's skin, damaged his organs, poisoned his blood. That voice that was in his head all the time. He just couldn't get it out. Even the competing voices-Aunt Leila, Mr. Ivy, Dr. Cooper-weren't loud enough to drown him out lately." (Marshall, 63)

"Because that was what it was, wasn't it? Not just anger. Not a need to control in a way we most often mean it. Not a lack of love or understanding for their boy. It was fear. Fear that, after all the years of protecting his health, his heart, his mind, setting bedtimes and boundaries, giving warnings about strangers and looking both ways before crossing the street, it wouldn't be enough. Fear that, as he stood on the threshold of adulthood, forces beyond their control would take him down a path where they could no longer reach him. (Maggie, 15)

I don't know how or why some families have a tough road. Each child, each situation is different and it's never easy to know what to do except love them unconditionally, both parents and children. This book is filled with flawed, interesting characters and a story that kept me turning pages. 



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