Book Review ~ Between Here and April by Deborah Copaken Kogan

Summary ~  When a deep-rooted memory suddenly surfaces, Elizabeth Burns becomes obsessed with the long-ago disappearance of her childhood friend April Cassidy. Driven to investigate, Elizabeth discovers a thirty-five-year-old newspaper article revealing the details that had been hidden from her as a child: April’s mother, Adele, drove with her two young daughters deep into the woods where she killed first them and then herself.

Elizabeth, now a mother herself, tracks down everyone—Adele Cassidy’s neighbor, her psychiatrist, her sister—who might give her the insight necessary to understand how a mother could commit such a monstrous crime.

Elizabeth’s investigation leads her back to herself: her compromised marriage, her demanding children, her increasing self-doubt, her desire for more out of her own life, and finally to a fearsome reckoning with what it means to be a mother and wife.  

Debut novelist (but not writer), Deborah Copaken Kogan has delivered a dark, haunting and mesmerizing book called Between Here and April.  It is the story of two women, sharing a common problem, separated only by time and circumstance.  At first glance the book is a mystery of why a mother in 1972 Suburban Maryland killed herself and her two young daughters.  It soon becomes a look into the lives of two mothers and the affects of depression.

Elizabeth Burns is a freelance photojournalist who has left behind a world of working in exotic, dangerous locations and is now a wife and mother of two girls.  Don’t think that this new life is safer or easier though.  It is filled with doubts, fears, depression and feelings that make Elizabeth feel the only way out is maybe to accept an assignment in war-torn Iraq.  Elizabeth is the epitome of a modern-day working mother, in a tested marriage, facing demons from her past and trying to do everything she can to get it all done. Elizabeth is a protagonist with many unexpected layers.  A private horror is affecting her marriage without her husband even realizing the terrors he brings unknowingly into their bedroom.

While attending a production of the Greek tragedy, Medea, she is haunted by the newly remembered memory of her best friend April from first grade and the rumor that both April and her sister had been murdered by their mother who also killed herself in the same selfish act.  While delving into the mystery of this suburban nightmare, Elizabeth realizes some truths about herself, her own mother and the dark side of motherhood that society tried to ignore in the past. 

The story of what motherhood can do to a woman in the form of postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis and plain old depression is revealing, eye-opening and terrifying.  We may never really know what goes on in the lives of neighbors and friends but in Between Here and April, it is suggested that not everything reflects the perfect picture we see on the outside.  Just as Elizabeth can’t stop thinking about April and what her mother did to her years before, you won’t be able to either.  Between Here and April is a book not easily forgotten.  A complete page turner!

{Rating ~ 4 out of 5}

Between Here and April will be in stores and available on-line Tuesday, October 7th.  Deborah Copaken Kogan also wrote Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War, a recount of her time as a photojournalist overseas in some of recent histories most dangerous war zones.