The Anger Meridian by Kaylie Jones, © 2015, Akashic Books
Akashic Books has sent me several books, including a few from their Kaylie Jones Books imprint. When The Anger Meridian arrived in the mail, I was excited to read a novel by the woman who inspired this offset; Kaylie Jones herself. Knowing she already has several books under her belt, one of which was adapted for a Merchant Ivory film (A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries - 1998), I dove right in.
At 3:35am Merryn Huntley is awakened by the doorbell. Assuming her husband is drunk again and not able to manage the lock, she steels herself and casually opens the door. What she finds is two police officers there to tell her her husband has died in a car accident. A much younger woman was in the car with him and it looks like his pre-occupation led him to slam headlong into a tree, killing them both instantly. While this frees Merryn from a loveless marriage, the circumstances around the death will be scandalous and she doesn't want her 9-year-old daughter Tenney to suffer through the indignity.
At least that's what Merryn tells herself as she hastily packs a bag and flees to her mother's home in San Miguel, Mexico. The truth is far more complicated.
Anxiety attack after anxiety attack plague Merryn as she braces herself for her mother's disapproving stare. Despite being a grown woman, and mother herself, Merryn falls back into being kowtowed by overbearing Bibi. But a life spent ignoring the truth and walking the fine line of stability unravels as the FBI arrives at her mother's doorstep in Mexico examining her husband's questionable business dealings. Fearing even more disapproval from her mother, she desperately tries to please everyone around her, but is spiralling out of control. And now it is finally time to face the truth she has never let herself see, or lose the respect of her daughter and herself forever.
The Anger Meridian moves along at a good clip and entices the reader to keep pace. Hemmed in at every turn, Merryn can no longer rely on old coping methods to get by, but finally learns to stand up for herself. Along the way, her daughter is there to give her the strength it takes to break free from old habits that don't serve her. Tenney is really the shining star of the novel, with wisdom beyond her years and a maturity her mother is hard-pressed to match. I have to admit that Merryn's weak will makes her not exactly the most compelling leading lady, but once she finally faces her fear of the truth and accepts it, she can finally breathe for the first time in her life. With a loveless mother, weak-willed father and philandering husband, it's amazing she gets there at all, but Jones gave me just enough hope to read through to the end.
This novel has a nice mix of drama, romance, and mystery that will keep you turning the pages through to the end. Thanks for the read Akashic Press!