This is a powerful family tale about two sisters as different as night and day. Jazz is responsible and looking for a way to better her life while her younger sister Olivia is strong willed and more of a free spirit. Olivia also suffers from synesthesia, which leaves her with the ability to see colors in sounds, taste words and smell sights. Yes, this affliction really exists. I had to look it up being the curious person I am.
After the alleged suicide of their mother, Olivia decides to venture to the place that was the setting for the book her mother was writing and never finished. Much to her displeasure, Jazz is coaxed into going along to look after Olivia. Her younger sister isn’t the most responsible person in the world and never thinks things through, going about life off-the-cuff, the total opposite of Jazz who has a job waiting for her.
Olivia packs some of her mother’s ashes into a suitcase and takes off to walk to her destination. Jazz isn’t happy about Olivia’s quest and the insistence of her family that she goes along to look after her sister, but she can drive and has an old vehicle inherited from her grandmother. Jazz is further aggravated when they run into all sorts of trouble along the way and it looks like she won’t be back in time to start her first job.
Jazz tries to talk Olivia out of going to the bogs, but she’s determined to get there by any means. When Jazz is taking care of business, Olivia runs off to hop a train. Jazz doesn’t realize she’s gone at first because the suitcase with the ashes is still there. When Jazz finally catches up with Olivia, she’s taken up with a train hopper who tells her himself that he can’t be trusted, but she thinks he’s a nice person underneath, so is willing to take the chance because he can lead her to the cranberry bogs, which is where her dead mother’s story takes place.
When they meet face-to-face again, Jazz does everything she can to persuade Olivia to come home and give up on her quest. She doesn’t trust the train hopper who Olivia is smitten by. The reader can feel Jazz’s anger and resentment over the fact she has to mind her sister throughout the book.
Many secrets are revealed as this trip lingers on far longer than Jazz would like. They are also camping in the woods, which bothers Jazz more than it does Olivia who claims she can sleep anywhere.
Each sister is hiding a secret from the other, and as the journey goes on they finally have to rely on each other and decide what’s really important.
This book is written in first person, alternating with each sister’s point of view. There’s a lot of back story, but it seems to fit. This didn’t bother me, but some readers may find there’s too much. The thing that bothers me more is a couple of unanswered questions at the end. I guess it’s the author’s intent to have the reader fill in the blanks. Beyond that, this is a fascinating story and a quick read.