Susan Conley’s latest novel, “Landslide” was the story of a family of teenage boys, their mother Jillian calls them wolves. Her husband, Kit, was just in a horrific fishing accident off the coast of Nova Scotia after being at sea for a couple of months.
Sam, the younger son is struggling in school, trying drugs, and playing his mother with passive-aggressive defensiveness. Charlie, the older brother, acts like a de facto parent with his dad in a hospital in Canada while they await his return in Maine. There is some serious family drama and everything seems to be on the edge of collapse.
The elements that Ms. Conley uses to greatest effect are the inner thoughts of her narrator, Jill. She tiptoes around Sam’s moods and struggles to give Charlie space with his new girlfriend. The growing distance between Jill and Kit as the time away increases and hospital visits are fewer and farther between. The way that Conley takes this moment in the life of a family, the stresses, the concerns, the fears, the lack of trust, and weaves it into something akin to a mysterious thriller where the outcome is always in doubt was masterful.
The backstory of their relationship, the character development, the description of the setting on a cold, dark island off the coast of Maine, all of it works to create this impending doom and mysterious doubt of what will come of this family that seems to be falling apart. I really enjoyed this novel and I am eager to read some of Ms. Conley’s other work.