Title: The Winters in Bloom
Author: Lisa Tucker
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):
“Together for over a decade, Kyra and David Winter are happier than they ever thought they could be. They have a comfortable home, stable careers, and a young son, Michael, who they love more than anything. Yet because of their complicated histories, Kyra and David have always feared that this domestic bliss couldn’t last – that the life they created was destined to be disrupted. And on one perfectly average summer day, it is: Michael disappears from his own backyard.
The only question is whose past has finally caught up with them: David feels sure that Michael was taken by his troubled ex-wife, while Kyra believes the kidnapper must be someone from her estranged family, someone she betrayed years ago.
As the Winters embark on a journey of time and memory to find Michael, they will be forced to admit these suspicions, revealing secrets about themselves they’ve always kept hidden. But they will also have a chance to discover that it’s not too late to have the family they’ve dreamed of; that even if the world is full of risks, as long as they have hope, the future can bloom.”
Thoughts: The Winters in Bloom is a chilling portrait of a modern family and how they react when their greatest fear is realized. As the story goes back and forth from David and Kyra’s memories to their present-day sufferings, the reader is left to guess as to Michael’s whereabouts and to the identity of his kidnapper. Ms. Tucker explores the long-lasting impact of secrets on relationships.
Kyra and David are so filled with fear that they make one uncomfortable. How they can say they are living life is completely questionable. As for the impact of their fears on Michael, one’s heart goes out to him for being hampered by his parents’ rules, which do nothing to protect him in the end anyway. In seeing Kyra and David’s rules through Michael’s eyes, the reader is left questioning whether Michael’s parents are causing more harm than good.
As for the much-touted secrets harbored by both Kyra and David, they are decidedly anti-climactic. Both are so scared, that the reader’s expectations are artificially raised. The secrets, when finally exposed, are serious but nothing that would require keeping it private from everyone, at least in my opinion. The reader can all but feel the tension leave the story after the big reveal as a result.
There is something fundamentally lacking in The Winters in Bloom that prevented me from enjoying the novel as much as I hoped. Considering a large majority of the action dealt around keeping secrets from loved ones, I struggled finding common ground with any of the characters. I do not buy the fact that two people who are supposedly so in love would hide such secrets for such a long time. The fact that they do is ultimately the root of all their problems and is depressing for how avoidable it all is. While I understand that this is the point, it is a rather gloomy image of trust in relationships that forces the book to fall flat for me.
Acknowledgements: Thank you to Atria Books for my review copy!