PulseBooks: Happily ever after? Not this month

When a book leaves you thinking (and even infiltrates your dreams), you know it’s a good one. Catherine McKenzie’s latest novel, The Good Liar (Lake Union Publishing), is one of those very books. Cecily Grayson is perpetually late, and on the morning of Oct. 10, her tardiness saved her life. Late for a meeting, she found herself standing outside of the office building, watching it crumble to the ground after an explosion, with her husband and her best friend inside. A year later, Cecily has become the poster child of the tragedy — a photograph taken of her post-explosion was plastered across news outlets everywhere. As the first anniversary of the explosion approaches, she is struggling with the unwelcome fame and her role as the grieving widow, while her new friend, Franny, a young woman whose birth mother was in the building, is trying desperately to fit into the family she always wanted. Cecily and Franny’s lives were forever changed that day, as was that of Kate, who escaped the explosion and ran away to start fresh 1,000 miles away. As news coverage of the anniversary intensifies, Kate is worried that she won’t be able to keep her old life, and her secrets, hidden in the past. McKenzie expertly weaves together the lives of these three women, resulting in a dramatic page-turner you won’t be able to put down once you get started.

The latest book by international bestselling author Sarah Winman, Tin Man (Viking), is an example that great things can come in small packages. In just a little more than 200 pages, Winman is able to break your heart and then put it back together through the story of Ellis and Michael. Ellis and Michael meet at the age of 12, when Michael is sent to live with his aunt, and quickly become the best of friends. Their closeness and the love they have for each other blurs the lines between friendship and romance; there is a tenderness in the innocence of their age and the fact that Winman never labels their love. When Ellis marries Annie, the twosome becomes a threesome, a circle of love with Ellis right in the middle. One day, Michael disappears, leaving Ellis and Annie feeling as if a piece of them is missing, until years later when he returns with no explanation of why or where he had gone. They fall back into their routine, until a tragic accident kills both Annie and Michael. Ellis, once surrounded by love on all sides, is now faced with going on alone. His sadness permeates the pages, leaving the reader to feel the hurt and pain of two significant losses. It is only when Ellis stumbles upon Michael’s old journals from his missing years that he is able to feel the light and will to carry on. Though this story is about love, not all love stories end happily ever after, but some can leave you with a sense of hope and optimism that the human spirit can survive big love and even bigger losses.

Kimberly Dunbar

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