This novel is told by Henry Shaw, a seventeen year old boy, who kind of inadvertently came across his mother's email account and checked it out. Sadly for him, reading through his mother's emails, he discovered that his mother was having an affair. Henry is telling the story ten years later in this novel.
Henry's mother, Beth, was very active in music, specializing in ancient music. His father, Kevin, was a history teacher at the local high school and in some ways portrayed the image of an absent-minded professor, in that he seemed to be fairly unaware of others actions and feelings. Henry's thirteen year old sister, Elvira, was obsessed with Civil War re-enactments (at her father's urging), and became active in participating in them disguised as a boy. Her preoccupation with this was a source of contention within Beth and Kevin's marriage as Beth was concerned about Elvira's possible gender confusion and she was frustrated with Kevin's ongoing encouragement with Elvira.
Meanwhile, Henry is confused, angry, and afraid of what his mother's affair might do to the family. One review described this family as an "emotionally distracted family"....a perfect description.
"I wonder if it's better to know when a thing starts to disintegrate or if it's wise to keep that news from yourself as long as possible."
The author does a really nice job with portraying the characters emotions as the family goes through the different events coming to light. And her actual writing is beautiful...I love how she phrases and describes emotions, etc. This is an author who I highly recommend others read.