First Fiction Friday: The Good Son
Carolyn Huizinga Mills's debut The Good Son (Cormorant Books) is a psychological thriller that checks all the right boxes for a page-turning read: secrets, complicated family dynamics, and murder. A powerful, unputdownable novel that takes us into the life of Zoe Emmerson as her past and present collide and threaten to destroy her, The Good Son has the page-turnability of Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You and the emotional intelligence of Mary Beth Keane’s Ask Again, Yes.
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THE BOOK: The Good Son (Cormorant Books, 2021)
THE AUTHOR: Carolyn Huizinga Mills story “Finders” placed second in the Alice Munro Short Story Competition. The Good Son is her first novel. A grade seven teacher, Carolyn grew up in Calgary, and now lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband and two children. In addition to reading and writing, Carolyn loves playing soccer, camping, travelling, and eating dark chocolate.
WHY YOU NEED TO READ THE GOOD SON NOW: Since she was a child, Zoe Emmerson has harboured a secret suspicion about her brother’s involvement in the murder of a six-year-old neighbour. When the investigation into the murder is re-opened thirty years later, it threatens to destroy her hard-won equilibrium.
As Zoe wobbles through the stress of the investigation, Mills uses flashbacks to gradually reveal the degree to which Zoe’s secret has shaped her life. Mills traces how it has affected Zoe’s sense of self, her relationships with her mother and brother, the whole landscape of her life. The novel is from Zoe’s perspective, but the reader is never totally certain of her reliability. Doubts are cultivated and refuted, then cultivated again.
The intricate structure of past and present action builds tension around the question of who actually committed the murder, but the real suspense comes to lie in the question of whether Zoe will reclaim her life from the secret she’s held so close for so long.
A psychological thriller in the truest sense of the term, The Good Son is an entirely relatable ride through Zoe’s guilt and shame. After all, who amongst us hasn’t harboured a dark suspicion about someone and then felt guilty about it?
A powerful exploration of how secrets can amplify trauma and shape relationships in unforeseen ways, The Good Son has the page-turnability of Celeste Ng’s thriller/mystery Everything I Never Told You and the emotional intelligence of Mary Beth Keane’s Ask Again, Yes.
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Thanks to Sarah Cooper at Cormorant for sharing The Good Son with us! The Good Son is available for purchase on All Lit Up.
For more debut fiction, check out our other First Fiction Friday posts on All Lit Up.
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