Lacy Eye by Jessica Treadway
Published by Grand Central Publishing, 368 pages, $15
How different two daughters can be. In Jessica Treadway’s chilling family drama, Hanna and Joe’s oldest child, Iris, is confident and brainy, while the younger Dawn is awkward, dim and sometimes tragically obtuse, inviting bullying and nicknames like “Ding-Dong Dawn.” And her lazy eye, which she mishears innocently as a “lacy eye,” only isolates her further. Hanna identifies with Dawn’s vulnerability, and as Iris zooms along triumphantly, irritated by the coddling of her sister, Hanna helps Dawn through countless rejections, like being invited to a non-party invented by popular kids just to embarrass her.
It’s not until college that Dawn finds love at last. But alas, there’s something sinister about her new boyfriend Rud. Soon, Joe is killed during a brutal home invasion; Hanna, whose face was smashed by a croquet mallet, is left with memory loss. Rud is convicted of the attack, but when he’s granted a new trial, Hanna is forced to piece together what really happened and examine her misguided motherhood. Her own history—a father jailed for mishandling clients’ financial investments, an emotionally tight-lipped mother—has contributed to her sympathies for her underdog daughter. But this underdog may bite, and Hanna has shown surprising naivete in her affection, which is portrayed with sympathy even as the reader inwardly thinks “No!” In weaving a story of violence and exciting tension—is Dawn guilty?—Treadway also explores with gentle grace the couple’s marriage, Hanna’s eventual widowed romance and how people can come to make bad choices out of good intentions.
From Page 107: Rud shook my hand first, giving me a deferential nod and the smile that, although it appears in my nightmares to this day, made me understand in an instant why Dawn was so smitten. It was a wide and ready smile, accompanied by a gaze so direct that I had to break it, and look away, after a few seconds.