The Complicities

Rebuilding in the aftermath of crises comes with no tidy answers in The Complicities by Stacey D'Erasmo (Wonderland; The Art of Intimacy). Suzanne finds herself starting over in a small beach town in Massachusetts after her husband is sentenced to prison for financial fraud and she files for divorce. She isn't taking her ex-husband's calls, and their adult son isn't taking hers. But she's beginning to find a new place, taking back her maiden name and working as a massage therapist. A whale beaches nearby, and Suzanne is overcome with a need to join the rescue effort. But her ex is released early, and the question of restitution for his crimes looms over all of them, including his new wife and his estranged mother, who also narrate portions of the novel.

The Complicities is a thought-provoking examination of the stories people tell themselves and the ways that their actions intertwine, whether deliberately or inadvertently, with the lives of others. Richly crafted passages about the whale and Suzanne's fascination with it highlight in moving ways both the interconnectedness of the world and the way that Suzanne and others can become so focused on the forest that they miss the trees in the form of the individual people around them. "The whale spouted. At least once, its tail moved, and I felt it everywhere, electric, almost painfully resonant. Time, measured by the spouting breaths of the whale, slowed."

In this carefully constructed meditation, readers will enjoy witnessing how characters slowly fit together the pieces of themselves that they had hidden. --Kristen Allen-Vogel, information services librarian at Dayton Metro Library

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