Marilou Is Everywhere
When Jude Vanderjohn goes missing, the boring and ordinary horrors of fourteen-year-old Cindy’s daily life are temporarily disrupted. Jude’s mother Bernadette is unwell and often incoherent, unable to look after her home and herself, and Cindy and her brothers step in to help Bernadette out. What begins as checking in on the house spirals into Cindy taking over Jude’s role as Berndatte’s daughter. Soon enough, Cindy has left behind her own unstable home for the Vanderjohn household. Disconnected from reality, Bernadette begins to believe that Cindy really is Jude, and that her daughter never went missing after all. Cindy settles into a new kind of home life, a life with a new kind of mother and a new set of troubling circumstances.
Marilou is Everywhere is gritty and poetic, rich in detail but emotionally sparse in a way that tenderly communicates Cindy’s aching desperation. The novel is slow to start but picks up speed by the novel’s climax, and while this slow-moving pace contributes to the story’s atmosphere, there are moments where the reader is left wanting more—a more forceful plot, more time spent on a scene, more information. Sarah Elaine Smith’s hand is restrained and artful enough, though, that the reader has the sense that yearning for more is just what they’re meant to be feeling.
|Sarah Elaine Smith
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