For all outward appearances, Littlefield has perfection all buttoned-up; including happy marriages, smart children, and well-behaved dogs. However, appearances are deceiving and the façade begins to crack when a dog dies from poisoning. At the same time, there is a town debate on whether or not the town park should have an off-leash area for dogs. Clarice, a visiting professor, arrives at Littlefield to study the “perfect” town and she witnesses things falling apart. Margaret befriends George when his dog is poisoned and she finds his dog. Margaret’s daughter, Julia, is bullied at school and Margaret begins to see hallucinations while her husband has decided he doesn’t love her anymore. Clarice sees all kinds of town discord and she silently watches everything in the background. She has her own skeletons that she is trying to figure out at the same time.
Suzanne Berne writes about reality versus the ideal state. She makes the reader question what they want to see versus what is really in front of them. She creates complicated characters that have their own demons and flaws, and ultimately just want to be loved. She skillfully creates characters that readers can have incredible empathy for and makes it possible for them to even place themselves in the exact situation. Although wordy at times, this was an engaging story that made the reviewer hope the characters found what they were looking for.
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