The Truth About Ben and June

The enthralling The Truth About Ben and June by Alex Kiester opens with the disappearance of the titular June, leaving behind her husband, Ben, and their four-month-old baby, Mikey--and absolutely no clues as to where she might have gone, or why she left. Ben is as frantic as he is confused, unable to understand his wife's actions or his ability to be so blindsided by them. "They might not be thriving at this particular point in their marriage," he thinks, "but they were okay." Desperate to find his wife and persuade her to come home, Ben tries to retrace June's steps over the last weeks, only to find in those actions a woman he barely recognizes as the woman he loves.

As The Truth About Ben and June moves back and forth in time, alternating from Ben's perspective to June's and back again, it shifts, kaleidoscope-like, from a whodunit with a missing-person vibe to something much deeper and, in some ways, darker. Kiester's first novel explores through the lens of this one marriage what it really means to know another person, and the lies we tell to both ourselves and the ones we love. A seemingly perfect marriage is subject to the "precariousness of it all," as it collapses beneath the impossible weight of the postpartum period and all that it requires of both a mother and those around her. Gripping from start to finish, The Truth About Ben and June is a tribute to the idea that love--like family, like life--is a choice, something we must opt into day by day, albeit on our own terms. --Kerry McHugh, freelance writer

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