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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of The Unmaking of June Farrow by Adrienne Young

June struggles with the complicated implications of her family's curse of hallucinations and mental illness...until she realizes that the red door and visions of the past are real memories from her own time-travel experiences.

I wasn't the first Farrow, but I would be the last.

June Farrow is biding her time on her family's flower farm in the small town of Jasper, North Carolina.

But she's been seeing and hearing visions for a year now, and she believes they're linked to the curse that the community believes has its hold on the Farrow women.

June would love to end the curse, the fraying of the Farrow women's minds, once and for all--by never having a child and allowing the mental illness to die with her.

But when she realizes she can walk through a magical red door, she finds unexpected circumstances--and realizes that she may be able to reinvent her path forward--and possibly also shift the events of the past.

Young builds a story of traveling through time and of shimmers of other realities that might have been--or possibly did occur; whether they happened or not is not always clear.

The Unmaking of June Farrow involves some maddening determination on certain characters' parts to keep the time-travel element wholly secret from those who would ultimately be faced with it. (If even the bare bones of this crucial information were shared on a need-to-know basis, a character's possibility of showing up as herself in a dangerous point in time--for example, a time in which she may have been accused of a grave crime--could help secure her own safety and preserve her existence through various timelines and her implications on others.) It was tough not to feel frustrated at characters' reluctance to even allude to the giant elephant in the room, once the situation was laid bare for the reader.

Receiving only vague advice (which initially feels faulty, to say the least) about simply walking through the vision of a red door that appears to her leads June into a dangerous situation in the past--a past from which she built deep roots at one point, then simply disappeared.

The mystery of why June left a past timeline is intriguing and keeps the story going. The story shifts between events of 1912, 1946, 1950, 1951, and 1989. Late in the book, June begins to understand the "folding of time" and intuits how timelines may have combined. It's a complicated web of cause and effect, and for much of the book I wasn't certain that the bundle of events affected by time-travel added up (which age and version of which person exists in which time, and how does the interaction between different versions affect everything else), but I was willing to roll with it.

The circumstances of the ending are largely satisfying, the emotional connections June ultimately makes are poignant, and there's a character-reveal twist that was sweet and lovely.

I received a prepublication edition of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group: Ballantine, Delacorte Press.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Adrienne Young is also the author of Fable, its sequel Namesake, and The Last Legacy, loosely set in the worlds of Fable and Namesake, and Spells for Forgetting.

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