4 of 5 stars
This book was not what I expected–in the best way possible. Its many layers discuss family mythology and history and their effects on identity, the Holocaust, mental illness, absentee fatherhood, mothers. (I could go on.) And it does so in a completely absorbing and engaging manner.
We get two first person narratives, one in the form of the father Lucas telling the story of his and his daughter Vera’s visit to Vilnius, Lithuania and the other in the form of Vera’s letters to her boyfriend Fang. It’s Vera’s letters that really showcase Thorpe’s ability to write a voice that sings right off the page. (The letters probably helped to paint Vera as a more interesting character to me than Lucas, though that’s not to say that Lucas isn’t sympathetic or an interesting storyteller.) Thorpe also has the uncanny ability to capture what an art history professor of mine liked to call interiority. Both Vera’s and Lucas’s interiority are marvelously rendered in Thorpe’s seamless prose.
Needless to say, I’ll be reading Thorpe’s previous novel and eagerly awaiting her next work.