Tell Me One Thing

Tell Me One Thing, Kerri Schlottsman's captivating debut, follows the path of two women on opposite sides of a camera. Lulu & the Trucker is an image that catapults the career of photographer Quinn Bradford, despite her uncertainty over capturing a raw moment in the life of a girl named Lulu. The novel opens in 2019 as Quinn prepares a retrospective of her work at the Whitney Museum of Art. Standing in the gallery, she feels "she can time travel here, among these faces and scenes. They lure her into an elaborate hopscotch over decades or yank her through dense hours and minutes." That same hopscotch provides fluid movement to Schlottsman's novel, with each section capturing different moments in the lives of these two women, starting with the brief interaction at a trailer park near a Pennsylvania motel in 1980, where the photograph is taken.

At the start, the novel moves chronologically, with each section headed by the name and descriptive details of one of Quinn's photographs. Eventually, however, the sections loosen, with one dated 1990 and another titled "Time Traveling" and dated merely "various." This shift cleverly mirrors the way the novel increasingly blurs lines, leaving readers to question their understanding of such concepts as time, art and success. Quinn and Lulu have each experienced loss, and the novel offers a nuanced perspective, suggesting that "nothing is ever as simple as time likes to make us believe.... You can't use present tense knowledge and apply it to the past. But you can learn to forgive." Forgiveness is something Quinn and Lulu must learn to do, and readers will likely keep pondering the complicated choices in life long after the last page. --Sara Beth West, freelance reviewer and librarian

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