Gavin Sasaki was a promising young journalist in New York City until the day he was fired for plagiarism. The last thing he wants is to sell foreclosed real estate for his sister Eilo's company in their Florida hometown. But he's in no position to refuse her job offer, and there's another reason to go home: Eilo recently met a ten-year-old girl who looks very much like Gavin and has the same last name as Gavin's high school girlfriend, Anna, who left town abruptly after graduation.
Determined to find out if this little girl might be his daughter, Gavin sets off to track down Anna, starting with the three friends they shared back when he was a part of a jazz group called “The Lola Quartet.” As Gavin pieces together their stories, he learns that Anna has been on the run for good reason, and soon his investigation into her sudden disappearance all those years go takes a seriously dangerous turn.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
How exactly does a group of once-promising kids wind up with adult lives devastated by gambling, addiction, cynicism, and journalistic forgery? Ten years after graduation, every member of the Lola Quartet—a high-school jazz band in Florida—has failed in their own way, most recently disgraced newspaper reporter Gavin Sasaki. After a startling revelation, Gavin becomes obsessed with figuring out what happened to his girlfriend from back then, and whether the baby she had was his. Emily St. John Mandel deepens her reputation for smart thrillers, exploring the idea of questionable innocence. As we zigzagged between eras and storylines, our attention never, ever wavered.
Mandel (The Singer's Gun) strikes a confident chord in her third novel. Ten years after graduating from a performing arts high school in Florida, the members of the Lola Quartet are far from the futures they imagined during their final jazz concert in school. Gavin, who fled south Florida's stifling heat for New York, returns after losing his journalism job in disgrace to learn that he may be the father of a 10-year-old girl named Chloe. As he investigates Chloe and her mother's whereabouts, he attempts to reconnect with his Lola friends, all coping with disillusion: Daniel has divorced twice; Jack and Sasha have succumbed to addiction. Gavin's sentiment that "real people are so goddamn disappointing" not only explains his penchant for plagiarizing his articles but also applies to the adult lives of Mandel's characters. The author again melds mystery plotting with literary techniques like shifting points-of-view, resulting in both sophistication and suspense; the mystery doesn't quite pay off, but Mandel's novel excels as a character study that considers the slow degradation of hopes, dreams, and expectations of people who are only in their late 20s but already feel ancient.