I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
Zee is working as a psychotherapist when one of her patients commits suicide. The tragedy brings up all kinds of issues for Zee and forces her to confront her past. In the middle of trying to work through the tragedy, Zee must return home to Salem to care for her father who is suffering from late stage Parkinson's. During her time in Salem, Zee tries to come to terms with the past and the suicide of her own mother when she was a young girl. As family secrets come to light and Zee learns to open her heart, another tragedy may be just around the corner.
THE MAP OF TRUE PLACES is filled with references to celestial navigation and it is a very effective device. Coupling that with the setting in Salem, Massachusetts was particularly good. Zee is a deeply flawed person trying to make sense of her tragic past and how it shaped her present. This struggle against the backdrop of her caring for her ailing father is very moving. Barry does an excellent job revealing the flaws of all the characters while keeping them human and relatable. The celestial navigation methapor works so well as Zee tries to find her way back to herself. I found myself wanting to run out and learn about celestial navigation after reading this book.
I really enjoyed MAP OF TRUE PLACES. I thought the characters were interesting and I loved Zee's story and the focus on how our past affects who we are and the choices that we make. The setting in Salem was perfect and very effective. The book has everything from buried family secrets to witches to Nathanial Hawthorne to pirates to the threat of violence. It covers a lot of ground. I have already decided to go back and read Barry's LACE READER since I enjoyed this one so much.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. A great story of family secrets and letting go of the past with a terrific setting. You will want to go out sailing and navigate by the stars after reading this.