"I Liked My Life" (St. Martin's Press), by Abby Fabiaschi
The novel "I Liked My Life" begins with Madeline, its main character, assessing a potential new wife for her husband, Brady. It's immediately clear she's dead and speaking from a sort of limbo afterlife.
Within a dozen pages, readers learn that Maddy killed herself by jumping off a building, leaving no note, no explanation, nothing that offers any solace to her husband and teenage daughter, Eve.
Sharing their points of view in individual chapters, Brady reveals himself as a self-absorbed and tuned-out husband, Eve questions every aspect of her behavior toward her mom and both try desperately to make their way through their grief and back to each other.
It's also an insightful examination of marriage and love and friendship and life.
First-time novelist Abby Fabiaschi unwinds a tale wholly compelling, altogether believable and, at times, so heartbreaking it's hard to believe she isn't already an established author. She demonstrates excellent timing and perfect control over the complicated narrative and never allows it to drift toward maudlin. She leaves readers a trail not of breadcrumbs, but gold coins that are irresistible.
And the ending, while perhaps a bit neat and tidy, is entirely unexpected. All in all, "I Liked My Life" is an impossible-to-put-down and impressive debut.