When she sets out in the task that’s become my novel, What’s Left, she doesn’t expect to be creating a family genealogy going back through her great-grandparents. But there’s no avoiding it.
As I explained in an earlier draft:
Theirs is a unique odyssey – one where the final homecoming is far from its point of origin. As a tragedy, the suffering comes at unmapped turns in the quest for the American dream. As a comedy, well, there are hot dogs, hippies, Hoosiers, and hope. Take your pick.
She gets insights on her parents’ generation:
Thea Nita notes that children in her generation grew up hearing of the woes of the Great Depression as a staple of conversation at big family dinners. In our case, that included the diner shooting.
A good genealogist doesn’t turn back when the details get disturbing:
By now I’m rather astonished at the events Thea Nita’s uncovered. Every family has things it wants to keep secret, but as a journalist, she’s driven toward disclosure. What did I tell you about listening closely to arguments? The dirt that comes up, even years later? Or even in what might transpire in mother-daughter confabs.
Does it work for the reader? I certainly hope so.
One reason, I suspect, is because Cassia is part of a family that holds many experiences in common. They live close to one another, work in the restaurant or related enterprises, play and grow up together, worship in one of two streams they’ve blended. Whatever they have flows from a shared source.
Speaking of family, Cassia’s oldest cousin, Alex, would be quite a catch. Where would you want to dine with him – romantically or just as a friend?