Everything Turns Away by Michelle Berry

Everything Turns Away by Michelle Berry had me invested by the first few pages. It begins on September 11, 2001, at 4:32 A.M. I know exactly where I was on that day. But, on this day, with Canadian author Michelle Berry, we are with her and her characters in Toronto. We open her book and enter early in the morning before anything has happened and the world has yet to change. Change is a big theme in this book and it affects every character.  The babysitter finds herself in a strange kitchen, at 4:32 A.M.  Her mind is foggy, and it’s difficult to focus when she hears a noise and rests her head back down on the kitchen table. “… (the babysitter) puts her head in her hands the same way she’d been resting before and closes her eyes. Hiding. She doesn’t want to be here. She doesn’t want to be seen. A sliding glass door behind her opens. Someone comes into the kitchen in the dark and disappears into another room.”  Moments pass.  Still sitting at the kitchen table with head down, the groggy babysitter knows she smells something familiar in this strange kitchen. She smells blood. She knows that something horrid has taken place. She knows what she must do. She runs.

From the very beginning ‘BAM!’, I was thrown directly into the world of Everything Turns Away.  

The story moves searingly forward and we quickly meet the two married couples, who are the focus, along with the missing babysitter. The backdrop of the tale is the attack on and collapse of the World Trade Centre. We meet Sophie and Paul, and Helen and Allan, who are friends, having dinner together at Sophie and Paul’s. It is the evening of September 10, 2001. The dinner party sets the stage as we first witness marriages becoming undone, just as the world is about to collapse around them.  I found myself drawn to the characters and became an eager spectator in their lives.  This is a close-up engagement of the events, wherein the two couples whose lives, feelings and suspicions, reveal their failing trust with one another, as partners and friends. We follow the couples and the babysitter, unravelling, while the mystery is tightly held until the very end.

This is a layered and seductive telling of a mystery centred around the babysitter, a murder, and how each of the lives of the four married people is drawn into the ordeal.  It is also a taut domestic thriller that forces one to look at the married lives of these couples and watch the tiny cracks expand as their lives begin to fracture. You are forced to look because you simply cannot look away.  Everything Turns Away is set in a time when we can look back to the world-changing event of September 11, 2001. We, as readers, realize it as a major real event, yet there are many other events that have taken place at the same time in real life, just as in this story. One of them is the tale of the fictional lives within Michelle Berry’s tightly interlaced book. It is with an immense skill that seasoned writer Michelle Berry can create such an abundance of emotion and intrigue. She takes us along for every sidestep and tip of the scale, while at the book’s end, leaving an exhausted, but a satisfied reader.

Everything Turns Away covers so much ground emotionally that I could not turn away.  I read this book quickly and with enthusiasm. I devoured this story, from beginning to end, and back to the beginning again. It is a feat of writing and storytelling that one should not miss.

Michelle Berry is the author of three books of short stories and five previous novels. Her short story collection I Still Don’t Even Know You won the 2011 Mary Scorer Award for Best Book Published by a Manitoba Publisher and was shortlisted for a 2011 ReLit Award, and her novel This Book Will Not Save Your Life won the 2010 Colophon Award and was longlisted for the 2011 ReLit Award. Her writing has been optioned for film and published in the UK. Berry was a reviewer for the Globe and Mail for many years and taught online for the University of Toronto. She was also a mentor at Humber College. Berry now lives in Peterborough, ON.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Buckrider Books (Sept. 7 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 282 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1989496393
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1989496398

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Carrie Stanton has a BA in Political Science from the University of Calgary. She is the author of The Jewel and Beast Bot, and picture books, Emmie and the Fierce Dragon and The Gardener. Carrie loves to write stories that grow wings and transport readers everywhere.  She reads and enjoys stories from every genre.