As much as we love our families, they tend to complicate things. Nessa Rapoport’s new novel finds aimless, passionate 30-something Eve grappling with the tragic death of her twin sister, Tam. Exploring the layers of dysfunction present in all families, Evening spins a complicated web of loving, twisted relationships in which the ties that bind are weakening and there is no center.
Upon returning home to Toronto to mourn the family’s loss, Eve is hit with that all-too-familiar feeling—a mix of nostalgia and dread, like the past is coming back up to hit her in the face. While the family sits shiva in their home, grieving the loss of Tam, Eve struggles with her relationships. Now that her sister is gone, she is finally forced to revisit her childhood. Even in death, Tam is a major part of Eve’s life, and as the novel unfolds, we discover the intertwined nature of their relationship. Tam acts as an antithesis to Eve; while Tam found success and love, Eve struggled with these ambitions.
By the second day of shiva, it becomes apparent that Eve and Tam’s childhood was not as it seemed. Eve and her family are forced to confront their history as they teeter on the edge of complete decompensation.
This is Rapoport’s second novel, and she has previously explored womanhood, grief and Jewish life in America and Canada, all of which spin together in Evening. She limns the emotion of every action, cutting straight to the heart. Eve’s inner life is on full display, but the novel’s real drama and magic comes from Eve’s relationships with others. How can we truly understand and love someone when we are so stuck in our own lives? Though Rapoport does not get quite so philosophical, the power of Evening is that she forces you to do that thinking yourself.