In this mesmerizing novel, acclaimed author T. Greenwood draws readers into the fascinating and frightening world of Munchausen syndrome by proxy—and into one woman's search for healing.
When Indie Brown was four years old, she was struck by lightning. In the oft-told version of the story, Indie's life was heroically saved by her mother. But Indie's own recollection of the event, while hazy, is very different.
Most of Indie's childhood memories are like this—tinged with vague, unsettling images and suspicions. Her mother, Judy, fussed over her pretty youngest daughter, Lily, as much as she ignored Indie. That neglect, coupled with the death of her beloved older brother, is the reason Indie now lives far away in rural Maine. It's why her relationship with Lily is filled with tension, and why she dreads the thought of flying back to Arizona. But she has no choice. Judy is gravely ill, and Lily, struggling with a challenge of her own, needs her help.
In Arizona, faced with Lily's hysteria and their mother's instability, Indie slowly begins to confront the truth about her half-remembered past and the legacy that still haunts her family. And as she revisits her childhood, with its nightmares and lost innocence, she finds she must reevaluate the choices of her adulthood—including her most precious relationships.
"Lush, evocative." —The New York Times Book Review
A lyrical investigation into the unreliability and elusiveness of memory centers Greenwood's second novel (after Breathing Water), the intriguing tale of Miranda ("Indie") Brown's examination of her baffling and disconcerting childhood memories and of her coming to terms with a strange psychological disorder. Indie, at 33, is living a contented life in Echo Hollow, Maine, with Peter, her lover of 14 years, who owns a restaurant/art film house. Everything changes when she receives a telephone call from her younger--and prettier--sister, Lily: their mother has been hospitalized, with the diagnosis of poison, possibly self-administered. Since Lily can't leave her gravely ill infant daughter, Violet, who lives in an oxygen tent, Indie takes Ma from the hospital back home to the Arizona mountains. As Indie starts to reflect on events from her past that continue to affect the present, she becomes aware of how varieties of the Munchausen syndrome (disorders that cause sufferers to induce illness in themselves and in others) have shaped her family's lives. What really happened when four-year-old Indie was struck by lightning, and why exactly did Indie's and Lily's older brother die? What caused Lily's many childhood illnesses, and what about baby Violet's? Lily was her mother's favorite, while Indie grew up attached to her father, in whose bar she learned to shoot pool and drink too much. She believes that her encounter with lightning gave her special abilities to "taste sounds" and to catch "at least a glimpse of the truth" that eludes others. As her personal history reveals itself, Indie may find herself no less haunted by the truth than by falsehood. Greenwood can be coy with mysterious hints, but the kaleidoscopic heart of the story is rich with evocative details about its heroine's inner life.