This Must Be The Place
By Kate Racculia
Henry Holt and Company July 2010
ARC won from Kristin at Always with a Book
Arthur Rook is devastated when his wife Amy dies in an accident. Not knowing where to turn, he finds a postcard from Amy that was never sent and travels across the country to deliver it to its intended recipient. When he arrives at the Darby-Jones boardinghouse, he can’t find the courage to tell Mona Jones that her childhood friend is dead. As he becomes close to Mona, her daughter Oneida, and the other residents in the boardinghouse, he finds parts of Amy that he never knew to search for.
Author Kate Racculia has crafted a beautiful tale of grief, secrets, and chances missed and found in her debut novel. The novel fell flat for me in certain places, though. While Mona and Arthur were well-crafted characters, I did not want to spend so much time with our teenage protagonists. Oneida becomes friends with and then romantically involved with a boy from school known as Wendy. The point of view switches between the four characters and I felt that neither Oneida nor Wendy needed so many pages. They came across as angsty teen archetypes and rarely felt like real people with developed motivations.
However, I loved the way Amy came to life despite the fact that she is dead when the novel opens. We don’t get to see anything from her point of view; rather she is recreated through the love and memories of the people who knew her. The relationship between Arthur and Mona, as they decide which secrets and experiences they can share, is tentative and heartbreaking. I found myself cheering on these two characters whose lives had both been touched in indelible ways by the same woman.
Kate Racculia has written a beautiful debut, displaying a meticulous care for her characters and an intrinsic understanding of the ways in which relationships can both enrich and complicate our lives. I started this novel expecting some light chick lit, but was pleasantly surprised by the depth and heart displayed within its pages. I hope to see many more books from this talented writer.