In Search Of Us by Ava Dellaira
Published: March 6th 2018 Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
The author of the beloved Love Letters to the Dead returns with a parallel story of a mother and daughter each at age seventeen. Marilyn’s tale recounts the summer she fell in love and set out on her own path. Angie’s story is about her search for her unknown father.
This sweeping multi-generational love story introduces readers to mother-and-daughter pair Marilyn and Angie. To seventeen-year-old Angie, who is mixed-race, Marilyn is her hardworking, devoted white single mother. But Marilyn was once young, too. When Marilyn was seventeen, she fell in love with Angie’s father, James, who was African-American. But Angie’s never met him, and Marilyn has always told her he died before she was born. When Angie discovers evidence of an uncle she’s never met she starts to wonder: What if her dad is still alive, too? So she sets off on a journey to find him, hitching a ride to LA from her home in New Mexico with her ex-boyfriend, Sam. Along the way, she uncovers some hard truths about herself, her mother, and what truly happened to her father.
Ava Dellaira always breaks my heart with her gorgeous prose.
I wasn’t ready for something so beautiful.
There is a number of books that explore social themes very directly, this isn’t one. And yet, the issues are so present it stings. I was very fond of how subtly Dellaira introduced it all. The relationship issues between Marilyn’s mother and her grandmother, then between Marilyn herself and her mother, and finally between Marilyn and Angie, as each generation tries to be better than the preceding but fails in other parts for overcompensating. It’s beautiful!
Both main characters had their own way of thinking and reacting, everyone was very round and well developed. Yet, this was so well written, it was a pleasure. Also, it had the right doses of drama, in no moment I felt the author overdid it. On the contrary, the story just kept going like life, with no time to digest.