Nora is a librarian who collects first lines from books. Her dog is named Alice Walker and is the most important thing in her life. She's a loner who rarely lets people into her life. But on her birthday, she gets a phone call from the past. As a teenager, Nora had lived in Turning Winds, the local home for girls, and was a part of a group of four girls who dubbed themselves The Invisibles. When Ozzie calls her that morning, they haven't been in touch for fifteen years, not after something terrible happened and they all went their separate ways. Now Grace, another of their group, has tried to commit suicide and is asking for them all. They were once each other's family and she needs them. With misgivings galore, Nora, who has generally barricaded herself off from everyone since the demise of the Invisibles, agrees to go with Ozzie and Monica to spend a weekend with Grace to see if there's anything they can do to help.
Each of the four women has a trauma in her background, one terrible enough to have landed her in the girls' home and in each case, their pasts are still influencing their presents. Bigger even than that though, is the shame over circumstances they could not control that still causes each woman to keep quiet about her own personal unhappiness, tragedy, fear, etc. As the women start to reconnect, not only do their barriers start to come down and their secrets start to emerge, but their shared past slowly comes to light. The emotional scars of the past are connected with the unresolved issues of the present as the mystery of everything that happened that seminal night is slowly revealed.
Nora is the main focus of the story but Ozzie, Grace, and Monica's stories are all told in their turn as well. Their pasts are both similar and wildly different. All of them were failed somehow by their mothers and they have struggled with their personal worth as a result. That each of the characters has something so terrible in her past is understandable given where they initially met each other but sometimes the novel feels as if one more problem might sink it. The tone of the conversations between these long estranged friends who once meant the world to each other quickly reverts back to the intimate confessions they once shared, highlighting their past connection as each others' teeenaged lifeline. But the problems of the women are definitely adult problems no matter how rooted they are in childhood and adolescence. The inclusion of the rituals of the club sharing their wishes and dreams is a nice touch and makes what they've endured more personal and human. The early pacing is a bit slow but it is hurtling along by the end as the reader wants to hear the truth of everything from that last night. A novel of friendship and the family we create, this will make you question how much of our pasts, good and bad, define us.
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Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.