Thirty-five-year-old Elayna Leopold lives with her young family in suburban New Jersey. Working from home so that she can raise her six-year-old daughter, Hazel, while her husband, Paul, puts in long hours as a corporate lawyer, Elayna is typical of women who spend their twenties chasing dreams in the city only to spend their thirties chasing children in the suburbs. Yet no one knows better than she that life can change in an instant. Two years ago her infant son died, sending her into a deep depression from which she is just emerging. Awakening now to the idea that she can want more than simply to get through the day, Elayna finds herself suddenly -- thrillingly -- craving life's passions again. When she meets Kevin, a young artist with whom she begins to spend more and more time during Paul's absences, Elayna discovers a version of herself she thought was gone forever. As she uncovers yearnings that could destroy everything she cherishes, a threat to Hazel emerges from an unlikely source, making Elayna's choices and decisions that much more critical.
Editor of The Bitch in the House and author of My Sister's Bones, Hanauer returns with a compelling turn on a familiar story: a couple recovering from the loss of an infant son. Elayna Leopold, 35, traded in her life as a single magazine editor in Manhattan for life as wife and mother in affluent suburban New Jersey, with lawyer husband Paul. Two years after the death of their son, Oliver, Elayna spends her days caring for six-year-old daughter Hazel and working as a freelance editor of a poetry magazine. Elayna starts to come back to life, her awakening coinciding with the appearance of hot young dog-owner Kevin in the apartment building across the street. As Elayna's entanglement with Kevin threatens her marriage, Hazel's relationship with Elayna's fashion photographer father, Devon, raises the specter of Elayna's childhood and her father's dubious judgment. Excellent characterizations (including Devon, Elayna's adulterous friend Celeste, and day care provider Pansy Dougherty), dialogue and the spot-on representation of the family dynamic make this book difficult to put down. One keeps waiting for something horrific to happen, but instead the story builds slowly and plausibly. What happens is subtle and ambiguous as in real life.