This was a novel that I read and savored slowly, turning the pages was like peeling back an onion as the story unfolded and the characters developed. It is 1956 and Ava Lark is different. She works outside the home and is the only divorced, Jewish single mother in the quiet Boston suburb where they have moved to start a new life. Lewis, 12 years old, doesn't understand why his father has not come to claim or visit him, but he finds friendship with two other children on the block whose father has died. Jimmy and Rose, along with Lewis, roam free and are constant companions until the day that Jimmy goes missing.
The police and the suspicious neighbors question Ava and search diligently for Jimmy until they finally give up, believing he has run away, been kidnapped, murdered, had an accident...no clues were ever found. Lewis feels guilty because he was supposed to meet Jimmy the day he disappeared and did not show up. Rose moves away with her devastated mom. Ava is marginalized by her connection to the family and because she is so different from the other women in the neighborhood so she's left without friends or solace as her son retreats further from her in his own loneliness and guilt.
Lewis leaves home as he searches for a connection that will restore him to the person he was before Jimmy disappeared and for some sort of absolution. Ava, left on her own again, finds fulfillment in a surprising way.
I thought the tone of this novel was sad and it was touching and beautiful in a way that left me a little bit depressed. Even when the mystery of Jimmy's disappearance is solved, the happy ending I so wanted for them all was not assured.
Thank you to NetGalley and Algonquin books for the ebook to review.