Chynna Laird has filled this many-faceted book with a story that mirrors so much of life and cuts very deeply into subjects relevant today. Suspenseful and compelling yet heart-warming. A young mother disappears shortly after her husband is killed on a peace-keeping mission in Afghanistan and the book centers around her family, her friends, and even the community where the family summers every year. Many of the lake campers start talking about an old Indian legend about the Watcher of the Lake. Clues are found, but they confuse the issue even more. Some are locked away in the mind of her youngest daughter, Sage, who has not spoken a word since her mother disappeared.
This is but a small issue in a larger one because Sage suffers from a specific type of SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder). Her mother is/was a clinical psychologist, well versed in taking care of her younger child all while teaching her older daughter Freesia what works, what doesn't, and how to calm Sage in one of her terrors. Freesia is 16 years old as the story begins one year after her mother's disappearance and the girls are living with their grandparents. Fortunately for them, they are in a good family situation with their grandparents. Full of fun and mischief, yet caring and comforting, they too are able to work with Sage. When a lone girl who seems familiar begins to show up watching Freesia more than she is comfortable with, they finally have it out and become friendly in a way. Mizu wants to help look for clues.
The reader may feel they have a grip on who committed the crime, now upgraded from a disappearance. But there are so many possibilities. The peace-keepers on the mission with Freesia's father all have issues. All have been treated by her mother for PTSD. While it was called a mysterious disappearance, all kinds of rumours surfaced. Now it is surmised to be foul play, anyone might be suspect. Nothing is really as it seems.
This is not just a murder mystery, there are too many odd sequences and discoveries. Who is Mizu, how does she find clues others miss? I found a lot in this book to keep me glued to the pages. I love learning something new, and also have an interest in SPD. With so much going on the storyline could easily have been lost, but it is all held together with personalities, relationships, the feel of the lake and forest, sailing and swimming, living normal lives during a time when there is precious little normalcy. Aside from the background of the mission in Afghanistan, this story takes place in Canada, I loved the book through all its passion, trauma, laughter and love. That is what life is about after all, don't you think?