Booklist Reviews

Psychotherapist Zee Finch is dealt a blow when one of her patients, a troubled bipolar housewife named Lilly, leaps off a bridge to her death. The tragedy brings up memories of Zee's own mother's suicide, prompting her to go see her father, Finch, in Salem. She is startled to find Finch's Parkinson's disease is much more advanced than she'd been led to believe, and that he has kicked his partner, Melville, out of the house. Zee decides to take a leave of absence from her practice to care for Finch, a move that puts a strain on her engagement to Michael, one of her mentor's closest friends. As her relationship with Michael comes to an end, Zee tries to puzzle out what caused Finch to abruptly break up with his beloved Melville. She also tries to make sense of Lilly's death, unaware that the dangerous man Lilly was involved with now wants to exact revenge on her. Like her hit debut, The Lace Reader (2008), Barry's second novel features an involving, intricately woven story and vivid descriptions of historic Salem. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews

Another heartbreaker from Brunonia Barry

Brunonia Barry burst onto the literary scene with her debut novel, The Lace Reader, a story filled with magic, romance and an ensnaring web of family secrets. Initially self-published, The Lace Reader garnered so many rave reviews and such a loyal following that it was eventually picked up by HarperCollins and became a bestseller.

Now Barry is back with another enthralling novel that is sure to please previous fans as well as gain her new devotees. The Map of True Places tells the story of Zee Finch, a young therapist who is struggling to navigate the tumultuous waters of adulthood. Toil and turmoil are nothing new to Zee, whose life has never been set on a straight course; as a young girl, she watched her manic-depressive mother die before her very eyes, an event which forced Zee to grow up quicker than most and is a burden she still carries with her—one that grows heavier by the day. When one of her patients commits suicide, Zee retreats to her childhood home in Salem, Massachusetts, only to find that her father is gravely ill. As Zee juggles the demands of caring for her father and also meeting her own needs, old memories and guilt resurface, prompting her to slowly untangle the snarls of her past so that she may find peace in her future.

Gripping and emotionally taut, this is a novel brimming with both the messy and the lovely parts of life. A provocative examination of family, aging and finding your true place in the world, The Map of True Places is sure to smoothly sail Barry up the bestseller list once more.


Review of The Lace Reader

Copyright 2010 BookPage Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

A novice psychotherapist finds unsettling parallels between a patient's suicide and her mother's history, in Barry's second (The Lace Reader, 2008).Hepzibah (Zee for short) was named after a Hawthorne character by her father, Finch, a professor who's obsessed with the transcendentalist author. Her mother Maureen committed suicide by taking strychnine, after a long battle with manic-depression, exacerbated by Finch's closeted homosexuality and his attraction to the man he nicknamed Melville. Maureen had longed for a star-crossed love, and she left behind an unfinished fairy tale about Purveyance, wife of a Salem sea captain, who, with her soul mate, a lowly sailor, escaped her husband's brutality. (Zee grew up in the historic Salem home that was once Purveyance's domestic prison.) Now a doctoral candidate in Boston, Zee sees aspects of Maureen in her bipolar patient Lilly, a suburban homemaker. Lilly tells her of Adam, a carpenter, whom she loves desperately, but who now appears to be stalking them both—Zee's seen him lurking outside her office. With adjusted meds, Lilly improves, but then leaps to her death from a bridge during rush hour. At Lilly's funeral, Zee spots a man she recognizes from TV news as a distraught eyewitness to Lilly's death. More personal woes intrude. Finch's Parkinson's disease is worsening, he's now alienated from Melville (his partner since Maureen's death) and requires full-time care. Zee returns to Salem, and this town of Wicca practitioners, pirate re-enactors and tall ships, like Friendship, a replica of the vessel on which Purveyance fled, reclaims her. Hawk, the stricken eyewitness, is now crewing on the Friendship and, when Zee enrolls in his celestial navigation class, she's ineffably drawn to him. Soon the pair are making love in Maureen's room, beneath the same widow's walk on which the storied lovers once trysted. Although marred by unnecessary "come-to-realize" moments, this woman-in-jeopardy thriller retooled with gothic elements—shifting identities, secrets and portents, a deserted cottage and a missing suicide note—manages to transcend its component clichés.A highly readable sophomore effort.Reading group guide available online. Author tour to Boston, New Canaan, Conn., Portland, Maine, Raleigh-Durham, Richmond, Va. Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews

A wild child after her mother takes her own life, Zee Finch grows up to become a highly regarded psychotherapist. Then a particularly difficult patient commits suicide. Barry's The Lace Reader was, of course, a huge hit last year, but this book feels quite different, so let's see what happens. With a one-day laydown on May 4; 250,000-copy first printing, seven-city tour, and reading group guide. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Reviews

Barry's follow-up to her wildly popular debut, The Lace Reader, offers readers a healthy sampling of celestial navigation, fairy tales, half-truths, witchcraft, and intrigue. Psychotherapist but troubled young woman Zee Finch strikes out on an emotional journey to acquire knowledge and insight about her family's past. On the threshold of marriage, she finds herself in deep despair over a patient's suicide and is compelled to reexamine the chaotic years preceding her own mother's suicide; however, this compulsion loosens Zee's grip on reality. Navigating between truth and fiction, Zee is finally able to move forward. Barry wisely places her novel in atmospheric Salem, MA, as literary history, sailing, and witchcraft form the backbone of this tale. VERDICT Zee's a vulnerable, likable character, and the dramatic narrative brings her experiences to life. Although readers will be perched on the edge of their seats while consuming this mesmerizing, suspenseful tale, there are a few convoluted and confusing aspects among the details. Fans will also appreciate the brief reappearances of characters from Barry's debut. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/10; 250,000-copy first printing, reading group guide, and seven-city tour; ebook ISBN 978-0-06-199250-6.]—Andrea Tarr, Corona P.L., CA

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Publishers Weekly Reviews

Barry's considerable if overplotted latest delves into the long-lingering effects of a mother's suicide. Fifteen years ago, Maureen Finch, a discontented wife and bipolar mother to 13-year-old Zee, commits suicide while Zee watches. Flash forward to the present day, and Zee is a therapist with a new patient, Lilly Braedon, who is far too much like Maureen, and after Lilly kills herself, Zee walks away from her practice and travels back to Salem, Mass., to visit her father and his partner, Melville, only to find that her father's Parkinson's disease is advancing rapidly. With Melville missing, Zee becomes a full-time caregiver and must face the half-truths and twisted memories that have compromised her connection to her father, all the while examining how her mother's legacy extends into her life and a fledgling romance. This is a lovingly told story with many well-drawn characters, who sooner or later reconsider the courses charted by personal decisions and circumstance. But there is almost too much story here, and Barry (The Lace Reader) compromises the third act with a weak subplot about Lilly's traumatic last days that reads as an intrusion on an otherwise well-told tale. (May)

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