In a moment of self-absorption, Clara Purdy’s life takes a sharp left turn when she crashes into a beat-up car carrying an itinerant family of six. The Gage family had been travelling to a new life in Fort McMurray, but bruises on the mother, Lorraine, prove to be late-stage cancer rather than remnants of the accident. Recognizing their need as her responsibility, Clara tries to do the right thing and moves the children, husband and horrible grandmother into her own house—then has to cope with the consequences of practical goodness.
As Lorraine walks the borders of death, Clara expands into life, finding purpose, energy and unexpected love amidst the hard, unaccustomed work of sharing her days. But the burden is not Clara’s alone: Lorraine’s children must cope with divided loyalties and Lorraine must live with her growing, unpayable debt to Clara—and the feeling that Clara has taken her place.
What, exactly, does it mean to be good? When is sacrifice merely selfishness? What do we owe in this life and what do we deserve? Marina Endicott looks at life and death through the compassionate lens of a born novelist: being good, being at fault, and finding some balance on the precipice.