he Year of Fog somehow manages to be suspenseful and reflective at the same time. In the midst of the story of Abby's search for Emma, the child who mysteriously disappeared while in her care, Michelle Richmond weaves case histories on the subject of memory and considerations of how the past shapes who we are.
When her fiancé's daughter disappears during the brief moment when Abby stops to consider how to photograph a seal pup on the beach, Abby's guilt over her lack of constant attention is compounded by a sense that she has failed as a stepmother-to-be. That stepparent ambivalence particularly resonates with me; it's far more than being a caretaker, but somehow not quite a "full" parent, no matter how strong your emotional investment in the child is. In Abby's case, it almost seems to fuel a need to atone for Emma's disappearance by completely immersing herself in efforts to find her.
This is definitely Abby's story, told through her first-person narration, and I found her a very relatable and sympathetic character. Her self-awareness as she digs herself in deeper and deeper is one of the qualities that makes her painfully compelling.
A blurb on the cover of the paperback edition I read suggests that the book will appeal to fans of Jodi Picoult, and I think that that was one reason I picked up The Year of Fog, but Richmond's novel is more balanced between character and plot than Picoult's books typically are. It's an engrossing, unsettling, and emotional story, and based on how much I liked it, I'm pretty sure I'll be reading more of Michelle Richmond's books.