The Underneath – Melanie Finn
A complex, layered, and exceedingly well-written novel dealing with, among other things, the opioid crisis and how it’s effecting rural New England, and a women’s role in marriage vs. a man’s. We follow Kay Ward, a former journalist, who moves with her husband and two children to a quaint Vermont farmhouse for the summer, partly to disconnect from her frenetic workplace, and focus on her family. When her husband is called away, leaving her alone, we find ourselves engulfed by a gritty creeping dread as Kay begins to delve into the mystery of the house she’s rented and, in so doing, puts herself in peril. Very honest and real depiction of a mother and her love/hate feelings toward her children, her absent husband, as she slowly goes a little mad in the evocative rural Vermont setting. The ending was not what I expected, but it made sense and lent a grace note to a haunting novel that had me turning pages well into the night. Parts of this makes for difficult reading as Finn deals with child neglect, drug use, and murder, but ultimately, she has written a gem.