A thrilling novel from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger about the hunt for a missing girl and one community’s intricate yet fragile bonds.
“[A] nail-biting nuanced whodunit.”—People
Everybody knows everybody in The Hollows, a quaint, charming town outside of New York City. It’s a place where neighbors keep an eye on one another’s kids, where people say hello in the grocery store, and where high school cliques and antics are never quite forgotten. As a child, Maggie found living under the microscope of small-town life stifling. But as a wife and mother, she has happily returned to The Hollows’s insular embrace. As a psychologist, her knowledge of family histories provides powerful insights into her patients’ lives. So when the girlfriend of her teenage son, Rick, disappears, Maggie’s intuitive gift proves useful to the case—and also dangerous.
Eerie parallels soon emerge between Charlene’s disappearance and the abduction of another local girl that shook the community years ago when Maggie was a teenager. The investigation has her husband, Jones, the lead detective on the case, acting strangely. Rick, already a brooding teenager, becomes even more withdrawn. In a town where the past is always present, nobody is above suspicion, not even a son in the eyes of his father.
As she tries to reassure him that Rick embodies his father in all of the important ways, Maggie realizes this might be exactly what Jones fears most. Determined to uncover the truth, Maggie pursues her own leads into Charlene’s disappearance and exposes a long-buried town secret—one that could destroy everything she holds dear.
“This one is a stunner. . . . Unger’s genius is in plotting the story so that the reader never knows what’s coming next. . . .This is a read that will stay with you.”—New York Journal of Books Review
“Unger skillfully builds suspense by alternating point of view from chapter to chapter. . . . Too many thrillers rely on coincidence or outlandish twists to connect the dots in a crime investigation, but Unger makes that process organic by using the interconnectedness of her characters' lives over the decades—these people really do know each others' secrets. Even apparently unrelated thread—like the chapters about the exterminator called in to trap the raccoons in Elizabeth's attic—are cleverly woven into the plot. Unger is also adept at drawing believable characters and relationships. Much of the emotional weight and considerable tension of Fragile have to do with families, with how parents and their children relate (or don't) and how husbands and wives can think they know everything about each other—and then find themselves surprised.”—St. Petersburg Times
“If you're a fan of Jodi Picoult's family chronicle storytelling, you'll enjoy Fragile, too. It's set in a small affluent town outside New York, where everyone knows someone who kissed the pizza guy once and many have ugly memories and buried secrets. When a teenage girl goes missing, the lives of all who knew her unravel. Unger balances nicely the suspense of her missing person story (a layered one when the vanishing of another teenage girl 30 years earlier is connected) with deeper sentiments. How do you live in the present when the past has broken you?”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Page-turning suspense . . . [Fragile] also mines the more intimate territory of family and community dynamics, inspired by the disappearance and murder of one of Unger’s own schoolmates more than two decades ago. . . . In the style of Jodi Picoult, Fragile tells its tale through the real-time action and freighted recollections of a diverse cast of characters living in fictional The Hollows, a small town 100 miles outside New York City with a reputation for quaint charm. In reality, The Hollows is rife with dysfunction, full of ugly memories and buried secrets.”—Boston Globe
“Perfectly balancing the need for independence from one's past and the indelible ties that persist regardless of any attempt otherwise, Unger creates a tale that's full of realistic characters that will remind readers of either someone they know, or perhaps even themselves. And filled with perfectly written passages that are worthy of being read twice also serve to make this read an intense journey that evokes a surprising amount of emotion. . . . Poetic at times, heartbreaking at others, and suspenseful throughout, this is easily the best book of the year and comes with the strongest recommendation we have.”—New Mystery Reader
“Lisa Unger writes psychologically in-depth stories with great characters. The plot is fast-paced and has many twists.”—Daily American