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Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Answer to Your Question by Paulette Alden

The Answer to Your Question was a surprise.  When I requested it from NetGalley, I wasn't at all sure about what it was about, and after reading it, I'm not sure I could have been prepared for this one.

Calm and kind, Inga could never have imagined opening the door to policemen wanting to know where her son Ben was.  Or that he is the suspect in the murders of four young women. She is stunned and disbelieving, but she hasn't heard from Ben in quite a while and has no idea where he is.

The story switches pov from Inga to Jean, a young woman who works shelving books at Inga's library.  Inga took a risk in hiring the young woman, and Jean feels a great loyalty as a result.

Jean is far from her Appalachian home and alone, as her husband is in Viet Nam.  When the sixteen-year-old discovers that she is pregnant, she is initially horrified and intends to end the pregnancy.   She turns to Inga in her crisis, but Inga is too preoccupied with the manhunt of her son to be much help.

Nevertheless, the friendship continues to develop, Jean decides not to end her pregnancy and then is notified that her husband has been killed in Viet Nam.  Inga, too, faces another crisis when she must travel to Minnesota because her beloved father is dying.

Is Ben guilty?  Inga originally refuses to believe it, but circumstances give her doubts.  Jean believes him guilty, but has no fear of him.

A fascinating glimpse into a mother's desire to believe the best of her son, her fear for his safety, and her own questions about his guilt or innocence.  

While there is a section that is less believable and that perhaps goes on a little too long, I found this book riveting, and not at all what I might have expected from beginning to end.  So many layers, like peeling an onion...

Is there an answer to the question?  Yes.  No.


NetGalley/Radiator Press.

Fiction.  2013.  Print version:  250 pages.

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