The Blue Window by Suzanne Berne
Lorna is a therapist who is experiencing the sandwich phenomenon of having an elderly mother who needs care as well as a troubled son who wants to quit college. Neither one will talk to her about what they are experiencing. Lorna's mother Marika is a Dutch survivor of the WWII Nazi occupation. Marika abandoned Lorna and her brother when they were children and tentatively came back into Lorna’s life 30 years later, after the birth of Lorna’s son, Adam. Adam has recently come home after a traumatic incident at college left him feeling humiliated and disassociated. He now refers to himself as A and his divorced parents as X and Y.
After a friend of Marika’s contacts Lorna to tell her that Marika has sprained her ankle, Lorna and Adam take a road trip to help her. Ironically, Adam and Marika seem to take comfort in each other’s indifference, and they allow themselves to become more vulnerable with each other. Adam is able to open up to Marika about his ordeal which helps him to put it in perspective.
“An image rose before him, glimpsed once before, the ancient bridge surfacing beneath black waters, connecting everything to everything.”
We learn about Marika’s shocking actions during the occupation, and Lorna’s pain over her mother’s abandonment and new closeness with Adam.
The Blue Window is tightly constructed literary fiction by Suzanne Berne, featuring authentic characters who don't behave as we might expect. Though some readers complain that the book leaves issues unresolved, I enjoyed this psychological study of how we cope with shame, fear and pain, and the many awkward ways in which we attempt to express our love.
Hardcover 272 pages, Audiobook 8 hours, 26 minutes