Title: Everything That Follows by Meg Little Reilly
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Women’s Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: C+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
CAUGHT IN THE BACKWASH, THEY HAVE LOST CONTROL OF THEIR LIVES…
For fans of Megan Abbott and Chris Bohjalian comes a novel of moral complexity about friends who must choose between self-preservation and doing the right thing in the wake of a fatal boating accident. Set in the moody off-season of Martha’s Vineyard, Everything That Follows is a plunge into the dark waters of secrets and flexible morals. The truth becomes whatever we say it is…
Around midnight, three friends take their partying from bar to boat on a misty fall evening. Just as the weather deteriorates, one of them suddenly and confusingly goes overboard. Is it an accident? The result of an unwanted advance? His body disappears quickly, silently, into the dark water. The circumstances are murky, but what is clear is that the other two need to notify the authorities. Minutes become hours become days as they hesitate, caught up in their guilt and hope that their friend has somehow made it safely to shore. As valuable time passes, they find themselves deep in a moral morass with huge implications as they struggle to move forward and live with their dark secret.
Everything That Follows by Meg Little Reilly is a character driven novel about a fateful boating trip that ends in tragedy.
Kat Weber, her boyfriend Sean Murphy and their friend Hunter Briggs are celebrating the sale of a piece of Kat’s artwork. With their evening winding down, Sean heads for home while Kat, Hunter and bartender Kyle decide to go out for a spin on Hunter’s boat. What happens next shakes the very foundation of Kat’s relationship with Sean and their future together. For Hunter, this is just another scandal that must be swept under the rug in order to protect his father’s re-election campaign. Will Kat and Hunter be able to live with consequences of their decision?
Before the boating incident, Kat is happy with where she is at in her life. She has come a long way from her dysfunctional childhood and she has a lucrative career she loves. The best part of her life on Martha’s Vineyard is her romance with Sean and the love she feels for his mother and her mentor, Orla. In the aftermath of the night on Hunter’s boat, Kat is overcome with guilt and she becomes obsessed with finding as much information as possible about Kyle. Her memories of what happened on the boat are unclear and with the passage of time, she becomes even less certain about the events that occurred.
Hunter is the son of a wealthy US Senator and he has been embroiled in one scandal after another for the past several years. With his father in the midst of his re-election campaign, Hunter knows he and Kat have to keep quiet about what happened on his family’s boat. Trying to maintain a low profile, Hunter becomes a bit of a recluse in the weeks after the boating trip.
“Everybody loves Sean” is an oft-repeated phrase throughout the story but in all honesty, he is a bit of a jerk towards both Kat and Hunter. He knows they are a keeping something from him and he jumps to an erroneous conclusion so fast it will make readers’ heads spin. Sean is rigid and unbending with an uncompromising viewpoint of right and wrong.
While there is a hint of mystery surrounding the exact circumstances of what happened on the boat, the story is mostly a character study of Kat, Hunter and to some degree, Sean. Kat is barely able to function after that night and both she and Hunter are in a panic about whether or not someone will figure out they were involved. Sean’s dilemma revolves around his future with Kat and he is extremely judgmental and unforgiving once he learns what she and Hunter are hiding from him.
Although the premise of Everything That Follows is intriguing, the storyline soon becomes repetitious. Some of the transitions between scenes are a little choppy and clunky. Sean is an annoying character and it is impossible to understand what Kat ever saw in him. The coastal erosion aspect of the storyline is fascinating but the grad student who inserts herself in the drama between Hunter, Kat and Sean is very irritating. The pacing of the novel is slow and it takes way too long for Kat to come to figure out what she wants for her future. Meg Little Reilly brings the novel to a satisfactory conclusion that readers might find just a bit too perfect.