“He made decisions instantly, and carried them out quickly, without apparent
concern for their effects. He had enemies, but many more friends who respected
him for doing and saying the things they wish they could. Occasionally, I was
granted glimpses of his soul. Angels and demons were doing battle in there.
Most of the time the score was close; occasionally, however the demons
Pirio Kasparov’s life has been nothing but trouble. Growing up in Beacon Hill, she always felt that there was something amiss when it came to the whole understanding of how her parents path’s crossed, got married and immigrated to the United States of America. After settling in Boston, her famous fashion model and perfumery mother died when Pirio was ten, her father Milosa remarried and continued with the day-to-day operations of reknowned Inessa Mark. Pirio was enrolled in a juvenile detention “lite” boarding school for girls called Gaston where she met a fellow daughter of Russian immigrants named Thomasina. From their first encounter they were the quintessential bosom buddies sharing in their love for underachievement, teenage anarchy, and the denial of their nouveau riche lifestyle. Through drinking, skipping school, hitchhiking, and cavorting with bottom feeders, whatever Thomasina and Pirio did they were going to do it together. As “American” as they were, you get the feeling that through their misguided adolescence that they were painting the town red with Mother Russia navigating there way. Besides their love for raising trouble they both come from a place of wealth, which goes against the upbringing children in there financial situation typically experience. Not the prototypical Miss. Manners etiquette classes, tea parties, and Ivy League preparation, these two girls rebelled against original expectations and indulged in the seedy wasteland of opportunities, in all its glory. Fast forward several years, Pirio has tamed her mischievous urges while Thomasina has settled into a life of drinking, drugs, and promiscuity all the while conceiving a brilliant ten-year-old child named Noah. Before they both know it they will be smack dab into the middle of a dilemma where laws have no bearing and no one can hear you scream.
As one would imagine, a story set in beautiful New England would be very atmospheric and temperamental. With the changing colours of leaves, the frost on the decaying grass, the long-lasting autumnal presence, to mother natures plundering nor’easters, Boston witnesses it all. In North of Boston, from beginning to end, its narrative is accompanied by a shroud of mystery like a fog layering the northern shores of the Atlantic. Like a spectral presence it slowly but surely makes its way inland encompassing the main characters, specifically but not reserved to lead protagonist Pirio Kasparov. From the distressed yet brilliant young boy Noah dealing with the sudden death of his father Edward “Ned” Rizzo, to his criminally depressant-dependent mother Thomasina who plays the grieving widow but in truth has a flare for the dramatic,to the mystery surrounding Pirio’s parents Milosa and Inessa’s history in Moscow, to Pirio who is dealing with survivors guilt and PTSD, and finally to the mysterious comings and goings of Ned’s childhood friends and business partners. There are so many loose ends you just hope that by the end that there is enough restraint before the bottom falls out and everyone is washed out to sea.
“A teacher once told me that Fuck You was just a familiar place I ran to when I
felt threatened, like a bed that a frightened little girl hides beneath. I said under-
stood that. Everyone wants safe harbor; hardly anyone gets it. But there’s a big
difference between the floor under a bed and Fuck You, I remember telling her.
They’re not at all alike. The floor under a bed is dim and dusty. Fuck You is a
hot, sharp place.”
This is a very interesting book that most certainly has an air of Lehane’s desire for psychological suspense, and being set in the New England area the use of pathetic fallacy is indeed a reflection of the story’s subject matter. With female leads in literary thrillers I love when they have a sense of vulnerability. But you also have a clear understanding that while on their quest that they can handle themselves in any given situation, and to a fault thrust themselves into situations that didn’t require an action. As a male, when I read novels with female leads that behave like Pirio, I almost feel transparent. They strip away all of your insecurities, illusory demonstrations, false convictions, and ulterior motives before you even get the chance to introduce yourself and say hello. Pirio is multifaceted and very complex which are red flags in reality but I can’t help but feel an affection to her mysterious nature and social confidence.
One thing I failed to realize while reading and coincidentally stumbled upon while writing this review, were the similarities between Noah and Pirio. Both lost a parent at the tender age of ten, both are very intelligent and mature, and have parents that are not the best exhibitors of love. The difference is the fact that Pirio ended up living her life being an underachiever and tyrant, and Noah will be dependent on Pirio to ensure he steers clear of a self-destructive path in his life moving forward. It is not mentioned in the book, but Pirio being a reluctant mother can’t help but see the crying for help and she won’t let a long-standing friendship stand in the way of a child’s potential for true happiness and potential greatness.
This book was a joy to read and I would recommend this book to all readers. Some animals were harmed during the telling of this story so if that is a sticking point you may want to steer clear, but I would suggest enjoying an otherwise terrific read.
“Emotion is like money. Once you spend it, it’s gone. So don’t waste your emotion
on things that aren’t worth it. A bruise heals, so what’s to feel sorry for? A broken
bone gets stronger. If someone hurts you deliberately, save up your self-pity and
spend it on revenge.”
“It is not a bruise, it is me,”I told him, piping up.
This enraged him.”What? Who are you? Your flesh? Your tiny cut? Pah. Your
body is nothing; it sickens and dies. If that’s it Pirio, I say goodbye to you now.”