The Reverend Sarah Obadias is broken, bitter, and stripped of the reassurance of faith when she walks into a West Village restaurant in Manhattan. Here she encounters Abraham Darby, a rumpled but well-regarded painter who seduces the minister into his life of excess and emotional intensity. "I've run away from my life," Sarah tells him. "I know," Darby replies. "Take mine." But for Sarah, each day with the artist will bring a new reality—or lack of it.
Dancing through the novel is the mystical Yago, the gay son of Darby and the Costa Rican painter Alejandra Morales D├¡az. But Alejandra's appearance further discomposes Sarah, and Yago provides no calm or clarity when she encounters him: "Somehow he has transported her to an unfamiliar state of mindless eroticism. Finally she draws closer to Yago, intending to caress him in some horrible mix of mothering and lust."
Bloodlines become squiggled and unreliable as the novel explores the ever-changing relationship between fathers and sons and what constitutes a family. Throughout, one question lingers: What really did happen when a small boy was swallowed by the sea?
Laced with humor and a linguistic vibrancy, this tale of converging fates becomes a contemplation of faith, faithfulness, and the sticky, often unpleasant and frightening nature of spiritual and emotional growth.
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“The story reads like a prose poem—emotional significance comes across in the sparsely told daily machinations of the lives of a few intentionally but tenuously connected New Yorkers…Packard weaves a dreamy yet well-paced narrative with richly developed characters who gradually come to discover that life is always going on—whether they’re watching or not.”