Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Staff Pick - The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

There is nothing more satisfying than discovering a talented new author who promises many enjoyable hours of reading in the future. Such a find is Laura McHugh.

Her debut novel The Weight of Blood holds the reader throughout. title has been cleverly chosen. The weight of blood signifies family loyalty and also guilt. Family, whether you like them or not, whether you respect them or not, still holds for most people a deep bond that surpasses all others. For family we will go against all we believe in, keep secrets that should not be kept, keep quiet about actions that should be divulged.

With a setting of a tiny, insular Ozark community, rife with superstition - the novel emits a pervasive sense of unease. The Ozarks are a place where the role of women and men are firmly divided. It is as though feminism has never been heard of…. Girls have a way of going missing there – which demonstrates how very vulnerable are those without a caring family, without that anchor-like ‘weight of blood’.

The story has four central characters: two brothers, one caring and moral – one menacing and amoral. A mother and daughter – uncannily similar in that they are very near the same age and resemble each other physically. The narrative is told mostly in the voices of Lila and Lucy, the mother a daughter, with time shifts to accommodate the fact that the plot spans two generations.

Seventeen years ago Lila Dane went missing. Her daughter Lucy who has felt the loss her entire life – wonders about the mother she never got a chance to know. Now Lucy’s school friend’s body has been discovered after being missing for over a year. Is there a connection between these two girls? As Lucy delves deeper into the disappearances, she discovers that her own family may be involved. Should the weight of blood deter her from following the path of justice? Should family loyalty sway her allegiances? Is there anyone she can trust with what she thinks is the truth?

Written with well-drawn characters in an atmospheric setting, The Weight of Blood is a page-turner in the truest sense. Congratulations to Laura McHugh on her outstanding debut novel!

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