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This is the conundrum Lisa Sitteroff is determined to solve regarding her dead father-the tale her mother, Ruth, told Lisa and her two brothers, Rafferty and Neal, throughout their childhood. But Lisa, now thirty and watching Raff suffer from the ravages of bipolar illness, believes if she can solve this puzzle, she might somehow ...
This is the conundrum Lisa Sitteroff is determined to solve regarding her dead father-the tale her mother, Ruth, told Lisa and her two brothers, Rafferty and Neal, throughout their childhood. But Lisa, now thirty and watching Raff suffer from the ravages of bipolar illness, believes if she can solve this puzzle, she might somehow save her brother. For Raff's pain is intrinsically tied up with feelings of parental abandonment.
What starts as a noble goal for Lisa soon grows into a vicious family war, wreaking destruction on Lisa's marriage. Lisa discovers details of her parents' relationship that her mother has long hidden. Shocking clues appear as Lisa reads a letter her father, Nathan, wrote before he died, prompting her to visit Nathan's former boss, Ed Hutchinson. From him, Lisa learns that her engineer father helped design a generator run by radioactive materials. Ed lets slip that Nathan participated in a dangerous secret experiment, a fact her mother discounts as Nathan's cause of death. Accusations and excuses fly. Yet, how much of what Lisa uncovers is true? Is truth solely subjective?
Lisa sifts through layers of lies as she journeys into her father's story, seeking to understand this man she never knew. Meanwhile, her mother responds in fury and tries to destroy Lisa's life, determined to keep Lisa from uncovering her dark secrets.
Conundrum explores the rocky landscape of betrayal and truth, asking whether a search for truth is worth the price, and showing how separating from toxic family members might sometimes be the only recourse for survival. Lisa pays a high price for truth, but in the end finds it worthwhile.
Posted January 10, 2013
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To solve a conundrum you need to know the right question, the one whose answer hides the key, the secret that turns mystery into logical consequence. In C. S. Lakin’s Conundrum, Lisa knows well how to solve the mysteries of memorizing poems and songs. References classical and modern abound as she views the world around her. But her own memories, her own family, and especially her dead father and suicidal brother, remain an unsolved conundrum, frustrating her at every turn. Every potential key seems just another dead-end in the maze of her own lost history. Meanwhile her husband and her mother seem determined to destroy her future too.
A controlling mother, despairing brother, marriage falling apart… lost animals given shelter when the shelterer needs somewhere safe of her own… secrets and lies, quotes and applications, all roll together in this beautifully written tale. The author writes with a slow complex cadence, gently pulling the reader into her protagonist’s desire to know more. Each step in the maze leads to new twists and turns. Elliot, Yeats, Shakespeare, the music of the eighties, the mysteries of the age… The protagonist’s wordy analysis, occasionally didactic pronouncements , and introspective nature mesh perfectly. Quotes are used beautifully, and the truth will either set Lisa free or bind her—in the end it’s her choice.
Does a son turn into his father, or a daughter into her mother? Or is our future something we choose for ourselves? This novel sheds intriguing light on the way we see and blame each other when we should look closer to home. Slow reading is balanced with complex allusions, beautiful language with well-drawn quotes, and dark despair with the choice to make a change, making this a genuinely enjoyable and deeply intriguing novel.
Disclosure: I was lucky enough to buy an ecopy of this book when it was offered free
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