Sunday, June 06, 2021

Who I Was With Her, by Nita Tyndall

When Maggie dies in a car accident, her girlfriend Corinne has no one to turn to.  Publicly, Corinne and Maggie aren't even friends.  Corinne, as far as all of her friends know, is straight.  The only person who knows is Maggie's brother who in turn introduces Corinne to Elissa, who dated Maggie before Corinne came along (a fact that comes as a shock to Corinne).

At home, Corinne can't seek solace from her parents.  Her mother refuses to come out of the bottle.  Her father is obsessed with only one thing: seeing Corinne get an athletic scholarship so she can go to college and get away.  Neither one of them would be ready to deal with a bisexual daughter.  And Corinne, who was never willing to have her relationship come out in the open, doesn't want to risk what little family she has.  Instead, she struggles to maintain the status quo, even as it becomes more and more untenable.

The story suffers from poor pacing.  It starts off very slowly and covers pretty well-trodden material with little to add to the grieving-a-secret-lover rubric.  However, towards the end the novel grows more interesting as, through flashbacks, it becomes clear that Corinne's memories of the relationship are flawed and she has some difficult truths to face about herself.  None of that redeems the poor integration of the stories of the parents, which end up as peripheral to the story.  That seems a wasted opportunity as it ought to be possible to connect the dots between her unhappy family situation and her other difficulties.

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