Jacket Copy

Dead stepmother. In fairytales, this is the part where the daughter rises, triumphant -- freed from wicked spells and evil potions -- to be joyously reunited with her father.

Of course, they live happily-ever-after.

"You must go home," her aunt, Rose, said when they heard the news. "Your dad has something important to tell you."

Home. From Vancouver, a six-hour drive, Kate's foot reluctant on the gas pedal. Direction: south on I-5, east at Burlington, continue on the North Cascades Highway for two hundred miles to Twisp. Bearing: Dad, childhood. Well, here she is.

Past the bridge, she stares upstream, as if she expects to see Elaine floating, belly-up, toward her. But the river yields only the tumble of water over stones, a sound that transports her to a Mexican beach, the melancholy strings of a guitar, the trickle of a water stick turned end to end, Ray. She hasn't seen her ex-husband for a year and a half. A familiar chill begins to spread in her chest, in her head, fills all the spaces. Suspended animation.

From the outside, however, she appears composed, having learned long ago to suppress the ice storm in her veins, or at least, the knowledge that it exists, in the way a skier must suppress the awareness that an avalanche could, at any moment, bury her.

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