As Isabelle Stein’s car rushes headlong into a woman on a foggy highway, she glimpses a small boy running away from the road. The woman, April Nash, is killed instantly, while her son witnesses the accident through the panicked haze of an asthma attack. In the days that follow, Isabelle can’t stop asking herself questions: Why was the car parked in the middle of the road facing the wrong way? Who was April? How will Isabelle ever recover? Caroline Leavitt’s Pictures of You offers a close-up view of Isabelle’s journey—a path of healing, redemption and, ultimately, rebirth.

Isabelle and April would have had a lot to talk about, if they’d happened to meet in their shared home of Cape Cod before the accident. Both married young, earned unconventional educations and longed to reinvent themselves. In fact, both were running away from their old lives when they collided. As Isabelle learns about April, she begins to spy on April’s bereaved husband Charlie and son Sam. She cannot drive anymore (too frightening), so she bikes past their house and sees, to her dismay, that Charlie seems like a kind and intelligent man. Meanwhile Sam convinces himself Isabelle may be an angel with special abilities that will let him talk to his mother again. The scenes of budding friendship between Isabelle and Sam—both obsessed with each other for such different reasons—are extraordinary. Isabelle takes a snapshot of her and Sam, and presents it to him with the inscription on the back, “Some connections are never broken.”

Leavitt’s emotional and rich storytelling, set against the windy backdrop of Cape Cod, takes readers to a place they’ll long to visit again and again. Whether looking down a misty road, through a Canon lens or across a kitchen table, it’s often difficult to see clearly. Many good people struggle to understand what happens in their lives, re-examining things until they can find the right kind of meaning. Readers will hope Isabelle, Charlie and Sam can find that meaning in Pictures of You.

 

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