The Sunshine When She's Gone by Thea Goodman

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The Sunshine When She's Gone
240 pages; Henry Holt
Sitting in dismal winter traffic, just about everyone has wondered what it'd be like to drive straight to the airport and fly off to someplace hot, far away and, most of all, not here. The problem for John Reed is not just that he does this, but that he takes his eight-month-old daughter with him—leaving his wife Veronica behind, sleeping in bed. Thus begins this surprisingly probable tale, which follows John and baby Clara through a weekend in Barbados and Veronica through the same 48 hours, child-free, in New York. Due to a few white lies and dropped cell-phone signals, the couple are never able to get in touch, and thus remain semi-blissfully ignorant of each other's whereabouts on various beaches and polo fields and in homes of old lovers. On one hand, what results is a comedy of manners with clever jabs at how the intense parenting of today's generation (Clara drinks not formula but goat's milk with packets of custom-mixed herbs) makes humans a little nutso. On the other, what results is a darker, raw look at what happens to a person's identity when nobody's looking. Things may appear comfortable, even off-puttingly privileged, in this family's everyday life. But scratch that satin surface, and you've two people with a child and a lot of very real problems. "A pretty diamond with twin baguettes," observes Veronica looking at her engagement ring. Except that "when she glanced at it, all that platinum looked like a cavity flashing inside a molar."
— Leigh Newman