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Descripción de la editorial
“I wake up and remember,” begins Theodora Mapes, the narrator of Emily Hammond’s first novel. What follows is the story of Theo’s journey from Colorado to California in search of the truth about her past. Separated from her husband and newly pregnant, Theo has come back to California looking for answers, not only about herself, but also about her mother who committed suicide when Theo was a child. Answers that much include the circumstances of the mysterious death of an infant sister, Charlotte, so many years ago.
In California, she reconnects with family members, her dotty and distant father, her Aunt Lyla, the sister of Theo’s dead mother, and Theo’s older brother, Corb, who is upright and successful, and determined to keep the door of their past firmly closed. Old friends resurface, in particular Gregg, a former boyfriend whose sexy and reliable presence offers Theo comfort.
Within this tangled thicket, Theo finds herself increasingly drawn to solving the mysteries of her childhood.
“Why would a baby die?” Our father gave the same long drawn-out explanation each time, about how children in the olden days weren’t as healthy as you kids now—and then he would list the illnesses. Diphtheria, scarlet fever, smallpox, influenza, consumption: I always listened for the name of our sister’s disease, wondering what she had, why she had died. Only once did I get up the courage to ask: did Charlotte have diphtheria or influenza? No, my father said, looking as solemn as I’d ever seen him. Sometimes babies died, he said. Died in their sleep.
Impressively crafted, Milk is a complex story, by turns funny, sad, and inspiring. Award-winning short story writer Emily Hammond gives us a convincing, fresh heroine in the winning Theo who vividly examines the bonds that rattle family, past and present.
Upon learning of her pregnancy, Theodora ("Theo") Mapes, a freelance catalogue copywriter, flees her husband, Jackson, and their Colorado home for Southern California and her family roots. The twin traumas of her childhood the death of an infant sister and her mother's suicide when Theo was seven years old linger with an almost physical presence, incessantly invading her thoughts and imprinting themselves on the novel's action. Still reeling emotionally, she starts an affair with Gregg, an old boyfriend, and attempts to decipher the reasons for her mother's suicide. Theo finds her father and brother taciturn on the subject, both having buried the tragedy beneath the trappings of financial success and new families. But Theo obsesses over her barely remembered mother, discovering medical records and personal letters that gradually reveal a history of intergenerational incest. Hammond, the author of Breathe Something Nice,a collection of stories, paints in broad, plain strokes, assiduously avoiding sentimentality. However, Theo is a woman flooded with emotion; she lives in a psychologically tumultuous state. Hammond relies primarily on dialogue to convey this feeling; she also uses flashbacks to fill in some of the blanks. The writing achieves a solid if unspectacular level that just can't convey the intended emotional impact of the narrative. The novel, ambitious in scope, suffers mainly from this dichotomy between plot and voice, as well as thinly drawn male characters (Gregg and Jackson remain little more than ciphers). What could have been an intriguing exploration of family emerges as a rather ordinary story with its potential unfulfilled.