When Vivien Walker Moise returned to her childhood home in Indian Mound, Mississippi, she had been gone a long time. She brings with her a nine-year legacy of pain and loss, with emotional scarring that needs to heal. Can she find healing in this old yellow house? In LA, she has left behind her cruel ex-husband Mark, but she has also lost her step-daughter Chloe, whom she loves. Mark has taken out a restraining order to prevent contact between them. Vivien developed a pill habit, partially with Mark’s help, as he prescribed the pills, but he has used it all against her.
As she arrives back home, she sees a group of people standing around the old tree, and she finds out that a skeleton has been discovered beneath it. Who could it be? What secrets have been hidden here for all these years?
A Long Time Gone is a beautifully wrought story of family, of secrets, and about the pain that drives them away, and the strength within each of the women that keeps bringing them back home.
They have a long tradition of leaving, these women, starting back with Vivien’s great-grandmother. Her grandmother Bootsie also left for a few years; then her own daughter, Carole Lynne, Vivien’s mother, spent years going back and forth, like a boomerang. Now Carole Lynne is home to stay, but her memories are going. She has been diagnosed with dementia, but sometimes she seems almost normal. Will Vivien find the lost connection between them, finally?
Our story is narrated by three women whose stories weave together a rich tapestry of secrets and loss. Adelaide, whose story begins in the 1920s; Carole Lynne, whose time in the 60s and beyond was all about trying to rid herself of the pain of being without her own mother for years. And finally, Vivien’s story, and how she strives to make up for her own mistakes by taking on Chloe, who has run away from her father. With the help of her childhood best friend/boyfriend, Tripp Montgomery, she searches for the answers to some burning questions: who is the skeleton in the garden? What happened to the women in this family that made them keep leaving? And what finally brought most of them back home again?
The canvas is full of richly drawn characters, from those in the 1920s to the present. With each of them, we learn how the stories fit together, and we finally discover the answers. I loved this book, which earned 5 stars from me.