“A dark, sensual, emotionally charged, highly suspenseful thriller that probes the bleaker side of the human psyche and explores the nature of conflict, trust, passion, and obsession, this gripping story is a must-read.”
Even in late spring, nights in Maine can be cool. On one night in June of 1986, it was cold enough in the woods near Bangor that Kathryn Campbell and her friends built a campfire. They had gathered to celebrate their graduation from high school. Someone brought a guitar. Plastic cups of vodka and orange juice were passed around. The evening
was just heating up when Kathryn’s best friend, Jennifer Pelletier, stood up, stretched, and said goodbye. She walked into the darkness of the woods and disappeared. Forever.
Critics describe Desire Lines (William Morrow, 1999) as a suspenseful, emotionally compelling novel that examines the nature of loss, friendship, and home. It is the story of how two women lose their way at the beginning of their lives and what it will take for one of them to find out why.
Ten years after Jennifer’s unexplained disappearance, Kathryn is a grad-school dropout living in Virginia, stuck in a dead-end writing job and marriage. She has few close friends; most people have learned not to depend on her. When she decides to leave her husband, she ships her boxes to her mother’s house in Bangor. She has nowhere else to go.
When Kathryn returns home, her former classmates are preparing for their ten-year reunion. Old questions about graduation night surface. Jennifer begins to dominate Kathryn’s life, just as she did in high school. Enigmatic and troubled, Jennifer had always depended on Kathryn’s devotion and asked for sacrifices. A decade after Jennifer walked into the woods alone, Kathryn decides that she must follow her friend’s lead, one last time.
Involving herself in the daily rhythms of small-town life, Kathryn begins an investigation into her past. She renews contacts with old friends and teachers, using her skills as a journalist to reconstruct the life that she and Jennifer shared. Kathryn knows that she must examine what she knew about her friend, and what she didn’t. She must decide what she is willing to risk to know the truth. She must decide what her own future is worth.
Kline researched dozens of missing persons cases around the country, interviewing police detectives, journalists, forensic scientists, and psychologists in order to complete Desire Lines. Kline’s thorough research combined with her emotional acuity results in a moving novel, a story that will leave readers with a fuller understanding of both the power and obligations of memory.
“Desire Lines has the staying power of art. I hesitate to call Kline a ‘serious novelist’ for fear of obscuring her easy style and fluid metaphor-making, not to mention the simple pleasures of her eventually suspenseful story — but she’s the real deal. Kline dramatizes private life, from the charged crosscurrents of broken families to the robust intimacies of sex, with a generous, knowing appreciation of human nature. But what impresses most about the author is the pulsing depth and ambiguity she brings to her sometimes maddening but lovable main character, Kathryn, who blooms into adulthood as she turns –over the soil of her past and exposes the hidden turnings of the human heart.”
– Boston Globe
“Kline vividly describes how the sensory memories of adolescence remain acutely intact, no matter how far removed adults may seem from their teen-age years. She dramatically evokes the sights and sounds and feelings and the bizarre social mix of teenagers … Kline’s handling of the large cast of characters (and their enticingly serpentine relationships) so well done that the reader will keep turning the pages.”
– The New York Times Book Review
”The author of Sweet Water offers a taut, absorbing novel about a woman who must solve a haunting mystery in order to move on with her life.… The mystery of why Jennifer vanished becomes even more puzzling as new facts come to light, and Kathryn’s eventual insight that some ambiguities are part of life brings depth to the narrative. Kline’s edge-of-the-seat denouement ties up the plot threads with dexterity and also allows for a plausible future for Kathryn herself.”
– Publishers Weekly
“EDITOR’S CHOICE . . . Christina Baker Kline artfully crafts this absorbing book, bringing equal insight to the characters of Kathryn, the protagonist, and Jennifer, the friend who disappeared 10 years before on the night of their high school graduation.”
– Chicago Tribune
“What makes this Gen-X targeted novel so satisfying is how intelligently Kline dovetails Kathryn’s challenge to find her way in life with her attempts to solve a psychologically resonant mystery.”
– Entertainment Weekly
Desire Lines is that best possible literary mystery: a complex, superbly subtle novel with a tight plot that keeps one guessing right up until the end and never betrays the essence of the characters themselves. I adored the Bangor, Maine setting – Kline gets it just right.”
– Anita Shreve
“Why is Desire Lines such a terrific read, and why does it affirm life? Because Kline knows how to tell a story: when to lift the reader up, when to let the reader down. The way she weaves Bangor’s families, landmarks, and dirty little secrets into an honorable story is something to behold.”
-Bangor Daily News (Maine)
“In Desire Lines, Christina Baker Kline gives the theme “you can’t go home again” fresh life. This book is a great read – part thriller and part romance – that also takes a hard look at the difficulties in inherent in mother/daughter relationships.”