The door to the past has been locked to May but fragments of memories still remain: a boy running on the green, his fiery hair, a letter without a stamp, a secret she promised not to tell. She can’t piece together the past or even make sense of the present, but she revisits what she knows again and again. The boy, the letter, the secret. She can’t grasp what they mean, but maybe the people she’s loved and lost can uncover the mystery of the red-headed boy and his connection to May.
Like memories, the book moves through the decades, weaving together the lives of May’s family and the woman who cares for her at the nursing home. Their recollections are linked by feelings of doubt, remorse and a sense that they are mourning the paths their lives could have taken. Aftershocks from the past reverberate in the present.
Afsana remembers her mischievous sister, Amina, and her stoic grandmother, the family she left behind to pursue a forbidden relationship. Karen recalls a chance encounter with a charming man and the drink that inevitably led to more. Alex regrets the indecision that left him stuck in the town he was born in while the girl he cares about travels the world alone. Arthur pursues the woman of his dreams but reflects on the times he didn’t say enough. Like May, they are each trapped by the past and struggle to envisage their futures. It is only when their stories are connected that the fragments of the past become whole, and the secrets haunting May are finally revealed.
Naomi Kruger’s debut novel is a contemplative tale of what it means to carry the past with you and the power of letting it go.