Moon Road by Sarah Leipciger: Well worth the wait

Cover image for Moon Road by Sarah LeipcigerI’ve been a fan of Sarah Leipciger’s writing since her debut, nine years ago. The Mountain Can Wait exemplified that carefully pared back prose from which gorgeous descriptions of the natural world shine out which I find particularly pleasing. Her second novel, Coming Up for Air, was also beautifully crafted, weaving three narrative strands across time. I’d been waiting for Moon Road to appear on NetGalley as soon as I spotted it in the schedules, diving in straight away. Leipciger returns to her native Canada for this story of a missing girl and her parents who receive news decades after she disappeared.

And it was such a fine day, the day they fought. Early September. Birds in the trees and a kitchen struck through with amber light and long shadows. All that.

Kathleen and Yanick married when she was pregnant with Una, not yet out of her teens. Their marriage didn’t last but they remained friends until a row drove a wedge between them almost two decades ago. Yannick has remarried several times, fathering another four children; Kathleen has remained alone, intent on finding her daughter, setting up a Facebook page that yields a multitude of false leads and speculation, growing ever more irascible. On the eve of the annual party she hosts to raise awareness of Una, Yannick and Kathleen meet to discuss the news they’ve both received. He wants her to travel with him to talk to the police in Vancouver where Una had been living. Their journey is slow and difficult, hampered by age and health problems, but by the time they return to their separate lives, each of them has come to some sort of peace, both with each other and with themselves.

Because when they grow up, your kids, they are different. Growing up is, in its way, a little bit like death. Your kid is two people: the one that belongs to you, needs you, and the one that does not. Una, she is neither and she is both. 

Although we discover what happened to Una, Leipciger’s novel is about her parents rather than her, portraying the upending of their lives by a loss that has never been resolved with a touching compassion and tenderness. Always forthright and determined, Kathleen’s single-minded pursuit of information about Una has left her isolated and insensitive, lost in a grief for her daughter which is not the same as the grief of a bereaved mother. Yannick’s sadness has been buried in his successive families, slowly surfacing as he and Kathleen drive across the country not knowing what they might find. Leipciger threads memories with the occasional flashback through narratives studded with some pleasing examples of the descriptive language I loved so much in The Mountain Can Wait. I ended my review of Coming Up for Air wondering if it would be another five years before Leipciger’s third novel which it very nearly was, but I can be patient when the writing is of this quality. Fingers crossed her fourth will be published before the end of the decade.

Doubleday Books London 9780857526533 368 pages Hardback (read via NetGalley)

17 thoughts on “Moon Road by Sarah Leipciger: Well worth the wait”

  1. You’ve made this sound appetising from the quality of its writing. On order by our library service: I’ve put my reservation in for when it arrives.

  2. jenniferbeworr

    Thank you for this review, it sounds absolutely beautiful. I’m glad to learn about Leipciger for the first time…

    1. Her descriptive writing is gorgeous! She handles the affects of loss very sensitively. Hard to imagine the pain of not knowing what has happened to a loved one for so many years.

          1. One did thankfully; sadly not the other–Keli cat had met with an accident running into some electric cables which took us a while to find out.

  3. Oh, dear, I suspect I said this the last time you reviewed one of her books, but I really do mean to read her fiction; sometimes it just feels like it’ll never actually happen! heheh

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