One of these things is not like the other. That's how Cheri Matzner felt growing up in her adoptive family, and it's what continues to define her as she tries to start a family of her own. Funny and fierce, desperate for connection yet pushing it away with both hands, she needs to jump-start a marriage in danger of flatlining and save her career from scandal. But Cheri is still contending with a complicated relationship with her parents-her aging Italian bombshell of a mother and a distant father who looms large, even in death-unaware of the sacrifices they made to be together or of the difficult truths and lies in their marriage. When tragedy unravels Cheri's well-designed defenses, she is thrust into an odyssey of acceptance that brings her full circle back to her dramatic origins.
Sometimes it takes half a lifetime to come of age. To be able to glimpse our parents beyond their roles as our parents. To uncover the many versions of truth within our family stories and within our own. And to laugh at it all just a little bit sooner.
Barone's debut novel explores the pursuit of human connection with pathos and humor. A baby girl, born and abandoned in 1962 in Trenton, N.J., impacts multiple families in the community. Forty years later, that baby, Cheri Matzner, is still searching for a sense of belonging. She never felt completely understood by her adoptive parents, and as an adult she attempted to find refuge in both her marriage and her career. But now she has trouble connecting to her husband, an aging filmmaker who hasn't had much success since his first documentary, Disco, Doughnuts, and Dogma, and her career has also fallen short of her expectations first as a cop on New York City's Lower East Side and then in Chicago as a professor of ancient civilizations. With her future uncertain, Cheri mines her past for answers, uncovering family secrets along the way. As she learns more about her history, she begins to better understand those around her. The narrative, like the path Cheri takes on her quest for self-discovery, is long and meandering. Though the supporting characters are underdeveloped, Cheri is a compelling protagonist, making her journey into the past well worth following.