The mysteries of science and the mysteries of the heart -- perhaps nowhere have they been so provocatively linked as in this debut short-story collection. Filled with explorers, researchers, and dreamers, the eight stories in this volume depict the universal quest for discovery and closure - and the lack of satisfying answers that all too often defines the human condition.
\ \ In the first story, "Where We Must Be," a would-be actress takes a job in a remote theme park, dressing up as Bigfoot. Her interactions with those seeking an encounter with the legendary beast are juxtaposed with her connection to a man who is truly running out of time. "Inverness" follows a botanist who, as she copes with a failed romance, travels to Scotland to discover a rare plant, only to meet a man who has devoted his life to plumbing the watery darkness in search of the Loch Ness monster.
\ \ In the title story, a 17-year-old girl travels with her mother, an expert on primate habitats, to Madagascar. The mother wants to expand her daughter's horizons, but the more time they spend together, the more lost the daughter feels. Van den Berg's protagonists are often young, smart, and damaged by the people they love. And yet their motivation to forge ahead prevails, giving her characters, and her stories, resonance and stature. \ (Holiday 2009 Selection)