I’m re-reading a post from 2017, a review of Eight Girls Taking Pictures by Whitney Otto. I’m utterly amazed by this quote from the novel:
“She didn’t hate being a wife any more than she hated being a mother. What she hated was the way that wife, mother, and photographer created an unsolvable equation. What she hated was trying to solve the mathematics of her various roles.”
So many articles in mothers and working women’s magazine are about exactly this: the unsolvable equation of working and being a parent. To put it in another way, so many articles in the media are about work/life balance–how to achieve it. This novel, about famous female photographers is about the very same thing.
Kate Moretti worked as a scientist for ten years before turning to fiction.
Moretti’s novel, The Blackbird Season, is a compelling psychological suspense story about a family torn apart by suspicion. Nate has always been charming and well-liked, a hometown hero, so its surprising when he’s suspended from his teaching job.
His wife, Alecia, who stays home with their special needs child is barely holding it together.
Has Nate done something inappropriate with a student, Lucia, whom everyone knows to be trouble? Lucia, a platinum-haired misfit, deliberately acts strange. Nate, though, has always supported students like this–students on the fringes whom the others bully.
Alecia has many reasons to be suspicious. She finds an unexplained motel bill on her husband’s credit card. Nate also follows his students social media accounts. Nate claims he has a reasonable explanation for his actions.
Moretti sets up the characters and the situation so that Nate seems equally innocent and equally guilty.
Nate’s friend Bridget, who works at the same school, has access to some of the students’ thoughts because she is the Creative Writing instructor. Students in her class need to submit their personal journals for a grade.
In the background looms the colossal, now defunct paper mill that built and ruined many lives. Lucia, whose alcoholic father left the family, has sought shelter within its crumbling walls.
In a disturbing twist, two of the town’s baseball stars have a uploaded incriminating video involving themselves and a girl at party. Baseball is one of the town’s only source of pride so a scandal involving baseball players is bad news.
Lucia hands footage of the video to her teacher, Mr. Winters (Nate) but has not been seen since.
The tension builds to a terrifying crescendo as characters face their darkest fears. In the end, its hard to say who is guilty or who is least culpable in this incisive, suspense novel.