Wednesday, April 16, 2014

THE YEAR OF FOG by Michelle Richmond

The comparison to Jodi Picoult in the review snippet on the front cover of this novel turned me off.  However, I read the book anyway, because my mother was reading it, and I was very pleasantly surprised. The storyline itself, though, is not exactly pleasant.  Abby is walking on a San Francisco beach on a foggy day with her fiancé's daughter, Emma, and after about a minute of inattention, Emma vanishes—drowned or abducted.  From the title we know that a year of searching will ensue, and the timetable is not the only thing that's predictable about this book.  Abby shoulders the blame for Emma's disappearance and spends her days and nights scouring the city, handing out fliers, and putting out feelers.  As each clue surfaces, she doggedly follows it, even as her fiancé, Jake, is losing hope.  Emma's mother, who abandoned her husband and daughter years before, ominously resurfaces, gamely playing the victimized parent to the media.  Abby tries various memory-jogging techniques, including hypnosis, in an effort to recall minutiae from that fateful and terrible day.  She is a photographer, and I kept thinking that one of her photographs might do the remembering for her, but there's no magic bullet or replay button.  I'm not really certain how the author managed to keep my attention through all the days of fruitless searching, guilt, and bottomless grief, but she did.  Abby does encounter one potential new love interest—a wealthy client named Nick—and he jazzes things up a bit.  He's supportive and helpful without being too pushy, and Abby certainly needs a distraction.  The character whose inclusion I didn't get was her former lover Ramon.  Near the end of the novel we discover how they met, and Abby comes across as sort of a 16-year-old Lolita, to Ramon's sleazy older man.  He conveniently dies shortly after Abby goes to college, and I thought he was just superfluous to the plot, especially since Abby doesn't seem to have particularly mourned his death.  Maybe he was a late addition or even a character whose role diminished as the author fleshed out the story.  Even with my few quibbles, I enjoyed the book much more than my mother did.

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