Grace Leshansky's childhood was right out of a gangster movie. She
and her father George, a small-time crook connected to some
big-time criminals, lived a bohemian life in New York, listening to
opera and enjoying their uniquely close relationship. Even though
they occasionally had to flee the state to escape one of George's
bad bets or mistakes, their life of crime was romantic and
interesting. But when Grace is faced with the loss of her father as
an adult, her love for him and the violence she learned come to a
head in one brutal moment when she shoots her husband.
Caroline Slate's A FRACTURED TRUTH picks up Grace's story after she
has served seven years in prison for killing her husband, Paul.
Prior to the murder and time in prison, Grace was a successful New
York jewelry designer; before her father disappeared, she was
happy. Now, with her hair turned prematurely white and her business
bankrupt, Grace's life consists of a subletted apartment and visits
with her parole officer. And she is haunted by the suspicion that
her father is still alive somewhere. While working for her friend
Sheilah, she begins a secret search for George. This search brings
alive memories of her childhood and her marriage. As a young girl
and teenager, the figure of Josh Pyatt loomed large; sometimes
working with her father and sometimes brutalizing him, Josh and the
Leshanskys had a delicate relationship that was further complicated
by the fact that Josh's son, Michael, was Grace's first love.
Now, years and many tragedies later, Grace must confront her
childhood, her relationship with her father, and the connection
between Michael Pyatt and her husband that she never knew existed.
This is all compounded by her love affair with Michael, who she
doesn't even think she trusts. Who can Grace trust? As the plot
progresses, it seems everyone has secrets of their own.
Slate's novel is short and sleek, full of twists and turns, romance
and betrayal. It is a novel of relationships: Grace and George,
Grace and Michael, Grace and Paul, Michael and Paul. But it is also
the story of three unique childhoods --- those of Grace, Paul and
Michael --- and how what they learned as children and the
uncertainty and violence they witnessed shaped their adult lives.
No one is quite who they seem to be in A FRACTURED TRUTH.
In Grace, Slate has created a heroine who is tough as nails one
minute and quite vulnerable the next. Grace is truly a character of
Romantic proportions, acting on her passions and instincts. In
fact, the novel has a Romantic feel; despite the world of crime
many of these characters lived in, there is very little violence
and in fact many characters are sensitive, artistic, and even kind.
The mysterious Paul is a compelling character, as are several of
the supporting characters. But at the heart of the novel are Grace
and George, whose bond is amazing and memorable. Grace's search for
George is heartbreaking and sweet.
A FRACTURED TRUTH has it all --- passionate love affairs, family
bonds and lifelong friendships, murder and intrigue, mystery and
wit --- making it an enjoyable summer read.
Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on January 22, 2011