Saturday, June 3, 2017

Burntown by Jennifer McMahon

What They Say....Eva grew up watching her father, Miles, invent strange and wonderful things in the small workshop behind their house on the river that runs through their old mill town. But the most important invention of all was the one that Miles claimed came from the mind of Thomas Edison himself--a machine that allowed one to speak with loved ones long passed. Smuggled out of Edison's laboratory, the blueprints were passed down to Miles, and he's been using them to protect Eva, her mother, Lily, and her brother, Errol, ever since.

Then, one night when a storm is raging and the river is threatening to flood, the machine whirrs to life on its own. Danger, it says. You're in terrible danger. The next thing Eva knows is waking up on the side of the river and seeing her mother's grim face. Eva's father and brother are dead, their house has been washed away and an evil man is searching for them both. They need to hide.

Eva changes her name to Necco--a candy she always loved--and tries to put everything in her past behind her as she adapts to her new life off the grid. But when her boyfriend is murdered and her mother disappears, she knows that the past is starting to catch up to her.

What really happened the night of the flood? As Necco searches for the truth, her journey unites her with two women who are on desperate quests of their own. And as the trio follows the clues to solving the mystery of Necco's past, they discover that sometimes it's the smallest towns that hold the strangest secrets.

What I Say....I love, love, love Jennifer McMahon.  I've been reading her for years.  She only averages about one book a year, so I always have to remind myself to look for her but it's always worth it!

I read Burntown in one day - I had to get out of the pool finally because my Kindle was overheating.  So I hunkered down under the patio umbrella to keep reading.

This book - the description didn't get me excited, and I probably would have passed it by except it was by McMahon.  I wonder who writes the descriptions, is that a job?  I'd like that job.

Anyway, don't be put off by the description.  It's accurate but it doesn't really tell the story.  The brilliance of McMahon is that she weaves in the unbelievable or magical into the mundane, or even sad lives of her characters.  

And the characters she writes always hit you right in the feels.  They are the people on the outskirts, usually living quiet lives, just trying to hold things together.  I never read a McMahon book without reflecting on people I see every day and never consider the inner workings of their lives.

Burntown is the story of a woman trying to piece together the tragedy of her childhood, manage her current tumultuous life, and the other complex women that end up being part of her story- an overweight lunch lady and a teen caught up in a situation she isn't equipped to deal with.  

If you enjoy Alice Hoffman, you will like Jennifer McMahon - Hoffman has a lot more magic, but the same undercurrent of sadness runs through both authors work.

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