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Book Review: The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry

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Zee Finch never knew her real middle name, although as the book opens Zee has a penchant for stealing boats for fun, taking them for a joy ride and then returning them always to a different dock. So she accepted that the T in her name stood for Trouble.

Years later, Zee begins training with the famous psychiatrist, Dr. Mattei, with stellar credentials: a published journal article, best seller, and avid public speaker. As her practice expands and Zee shows promise, Dr. Mattei is impressed and confident in Zee's ability and therefore assigns patients of her own to counsel. One day concern mounts when her patient Lilly Braedon misses her scheduled appointment, later learning Lilly has committed suicide by jumping off a bridge.

She relives the suicide that ended her own mother Maureen’s life. Coupled with self-doubt and a lack of confidence, this presents an overwhelming state of confusion. After deciding to take some time off from work, Zee goes home to visit her father and Melville in Salem, Massachusetts. Finch and Melville, years a couple, together raised Zee after her mother died. Upon her arrival she discovers that her father has advanced Parkinson’s and that the two have conspired to hide his current failing condition from Zee.

Her fiance Michael keeps pressuring her for decisions. Her mind is a fog lacking any ability to focus, especially on her wedding plans. Not surprisingly, the frustrated Michael leaves her. Their marital future is on hold — or quite possibly kaput. In her eyes, her fiance just doesn’t understand the extent of her father’s illness or her devotion to his care.

This is the story of how Zee must remap her life. The author intricately weaves a seafaring story of legend as the complicated course of Zee’s intended life leads her astray. The parallels are mysterious as the story rocks back and forth between the past and present. The drama unfolds in serial like fashion until the map of her future shows its destiny. Engaging storytelling, characters who breathe as if they were family: Barry has written a beautiful transcendental tale worth high praise. The Map of True Places has a celestial place in the universe.

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