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Heart Spring Mountain
368 pages; Ecco
When a young woman named Vale receives the call that her estranged, drug-addicted mother, Bonnie, is missing in the aftermath of a tropical storm, she returns home to rural Vermont. Hitching a ride from the bus stop in a pickup truck, Vale's past flashes before her as she passes "the fire-station, rain-wrecked cornfields where Vale used to lie down between the tall stalks and get stoned, the 7-Eleven where she's stolen cigarettes, candy, bottles of wine. ... Every piece of landscape contains a memory; they attack her chest, claw there." The search for her mother is both literal and emotional as Vale reconnects with long-lost family members, including her ex-hippie aunt Deb and her great-aunt Hazel. As the narrative flows between characters and back in time, family secrets, betrayals and tragedies seep out. Hazel's late-life confusion underscores the blurring of time and memory, the way our ancestors' stories and the land itself help shape our own lives. "How easy to pass along our flaws—our anger, sorrow, reserve, withholding," Deb says. A novel of compassion for ourselves and for those who came before us.     
— Dawn Raffel