FRAGILE came out last year (before I had this blog to talk about it), and is just now out in paperback. Because Lisa’s new book, DARKNESS, MY OLD FRIEND is set in the same place and picks up many of the characters from FRAGILE, I thought it made sense to write about it now.
In the afterword of FRAGILE, Lisa Unger explains that she was trying to write this book for 20 years, which makes perfect sense. In FRAGILE, Lisa creates characters from the outside in, giving them a depth and resonance that stay with readers far beyond the last page.
FRAGILE is, at its heart, about secrets and what makes us keep secrets, holding them dear like heirlooms. It’s also about appearance. Set in an idyllic suburb of New York called The Hollows, FRAGILE creates a sense of place that acknowledges the preconceptions we each have about suburban America, and then proceeds to challenge them all.
Depending on the perspective you bring to FRAGILE, you’ll also find a story about families, about the complicated dynamic that pervades the relationships we all have. Ultimately, one of the things I love most about Lisa Unger’s stories is that every reader can identify—closely—with something in the book.
FRAGILE is classic crime fiction in the sense that it falls into a lot of different categories. It is both a mystery and a thriller. A teenage girl disappears, and the plot is built on this seminal event, although it is far more complex than just this, traveling back in time to another disappearance of another young girl, and the lasting impact that event had on everyone it touched.
FRAGILE moves quickly, but I wouldn’t describe the pacing as breakneck. It takes exactly the time needed to tell its story, which I mean as nothing but a compliment. Parts of the story are uncomfortable, but not nightmare-inducing.
FRAGILE has a large cast of characters, but they’re never hard to keep track of. I didn’t have to flip back to anyone’s last appearance to remember his or her role. This is certainly an adult book, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to younger readers, too—teenagers—because by embracing multiple perspectives, it will appeal to most people. It’s not every author who can pull this off—telling a story without one primary voice or narrator—but Lisa Unger does it beautifully.
Blurb: A complex tale of what lies beneath
Author’s Website: www.lisaunger.com