Delilah Hannaford’s life is a complete mess. She is caught stealing lipstick, she is caught sneaking around with her “non-boyfriend” and her grades are tanking—not that her career-obsessed mother has even noticed. However, when her estranged grandmother dies, Delilah and her mother must spend the summer in Red Falls, Vermont, for the first time in eight years, to settle the Hannaford matriarch’s estate. They are reunited with Delilah’s aunt, a tarot reader who avoids the issue of the eight-year-old fight just like everyone else. The air between the three women is tense and unforgiving, and no one seems willing to budge.
Delilah’s summer suddenly becomes maple syrup-thick with unanswered questions—about the Hannaford sister who died long ago and about the sudden silence between the remaining Hannaford women—and Delilah cannot seem to let any of it go. As they rummage through the piles of junk in the old house and unearth a treasury of family history, the women start to get along. Nevertheless, some secrets are just too difficult to tell.
As Delilah goes head to head with the mysteries of Red Falls, her life gets even more complicated. She discovers some inconvenient butterflies in her stomach when she runs into her childhood friend Patrick, who has over the years turned into a sexy musician with the ability to challenge Delilah’s previous notions of love and relationships. He forces her to rethink yet another personal connection she has forfeited, but Delilah is never without a fight, and sometimes close is just too close.
Sarah Ockler follows up her debut novel, Twenty Boy Summer, with another story of great emotional depth and empathy. Fixing Delilah contains multiple levels of teenage heartbreak, and Ockler captures the small-town atmosphere of one lazy summer from the perspective of a lost teenage girl with too many holes in her past. With a multigenerational touch, she has whipped up a story with a vast emotional range and plenty of challenges to test the bonds of mother and daughter.
“We all long for what could have been,” Ockler writes, but as Delilah discovers, it takes a real family to move on from what has been lost.