ISBN 9781524745974, 1524745979
Hardcover | 336 pages
Electric Literature, O Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Buzzfeed, Harper’s Bazaar, The Millions, The Rumpus, LGBTQ Reads, Lit Hub, BookRiot, Bitch, NewNowNext, Cosmopolitan, Salon, Lambda
Twenty-seven-year-old Maggie Krause has dated and slept with plenty of women, but she’s never been really serious with anyone, despite the model of (nontraditional) domestic bliss her parents have provided—Peter, Maggie’s dad, was the stay at home parent, with Iris, her mom, bringing home the bacon. The idyll is shattered, though, when Iris dies in a car crash and Maggie discovers, along with Iris’s will, five sealed envelopes, addressed to five mysterious men—all of whom are strangers to Maggie and her brother Ariel.
In an effort to run from her own grief and discover the truth about Iris—who made no secret of disliking her daughter’s sexuality—Maggie embarks on a road trip. Her mission? Hand-deliver the letters and find out who these men are and what they meant to her mother. It quickly becomes apparent that Iris had a second life, completely hidden from the rest of the family.
Wrestling with what to tell her father and brother about what she’s learned, Maggie must come to terms with a new understanding of monogamy (and its alternatives), a new appreciation for family, and the realization that her mother was not only a mother, but a woman, a person, with desires and complexities Maggie never recognized. This story is a sweeping account of grief and growth, generational divides and assumptions, and a journey towards understanding not only how little we truly know our parents, but how trying to know them can lead us to know ourselves.