Published by: Kensington Books
Release Date: August 27, 2013
In the year since her husband died, Laura Klein’s world has shifted on its axis. It’s not just that she’s raising two children alone—fact is, Laura always did the parenting for both of them. But now her fifteen-year-old daughter, Darcy, is dating a boy with a fast car and faster hands, and thirteen-year-old Troy’s attitude has plummeted along with his voice. Just when she’s resigning herself to a life of worry and selfless support, her charismatic new tenant offers what Laura least expects: a second chance.
Darcy isn’t surprised her mom doesn’t understand her, though she never imagined her suddenly acting like a love-struck teen herself. With Troy starting to show signs of their father’s bipolar disorder, and her best friend increasingly secretive, Darcy turns to her new boyfriend, Nick, for support. Yet Nick has a troubled side of his own, forcing Darcy toward life-altering choices.
Exploring the effects of grief on both mother and daughter, Equilibrium is a thoughtful, resolutely uplifting novel about finding the balance between holding on and letting go, between knowing when to mourn and when to hope, and between the love we seek and the love we choose to give.Add on Goodreads
“Thomson’s debut is riveting — the aftermath of Jack’s suicide has a unique effect on each character, though not in the negative ways readers might expect. Given the gloomy nature of the plot, Equilibrium is actually very uplifting, and homes in on each character’s yearning to be given a second chance at finding love and building new relationships. Romantic, yet heartbreaking all the way through, this novel is a beautiful take on starting over in life.
—RT Book Reviews
“Fans of Kristin Hannah and Holly Chamberlin will similarly appreciate this hopeful, uplifting story about family, friendships and a second chance at love.”
“In this impressive debut, Thomson skillfully maps the emotional landscape of mother-daughter relationships. It’s an emotional, complex, and deeply satisfying novel about the power of hope, love, and family. I couldn’t put it down!
—Lisa Verge Higgins, author of Friendship Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
“Tender, heartbreaking and beautifully realistic. A family—full of secrets– struggles to keep its balance on a tightrope of grief, guilt, desire, and the need for love. Fans of Anita Shreve will be riveted by this intense and compassionate story.”
—Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony and Macavity-winning author
“Equilibrium is definitely a novel that will appeal to any woman who found love a struggle, but chose to love anyway. From the first page, I was sucked into Laura’s world. Revisiting her husband’s slow, destructive spiral was painful, but seeing those mental health issues resurface after his death . . . scary. Thomson captured Laura’s fear with such detail and depth that I felt fearful myself. Thomson writes with such authority and grace. She’s an author to watch.”
—J.H. Trumble, author of Don't Let Me Go, Where You Are, and Just Between Us
“Laura and Darcy’s points of view fuel the plot to its climax. It’s a perfect balance that’s done so seamlessly…If you love women’s fiction, family dramas, romance, or YA then read this book. It’s a lovely heartfelt read that I plan on revisiting soon.”
—Heroes And Heartbreakers
“Thomson has written a touching novel about the trying to find balance even with the threat of mental illness hanging over your head. She’s captured the fear and the worry of parenting teenagers and how hard it is to let go, especially when you aren’t happy with the choices they’re making…a moving read.”
—Book N Around
“This would make an excellent book club selection. There is plenty to discuss with subjects ranging from mental illness to abuse to tough teen issues like drugs, alcohol, and sex. There are also questions at the end of the book to help guide your discussion.”
—Time 2 Read
“Cannonball” Damien Rice. When I wrote Equilibrium, I’d listen to “Cannonball” as part of my writing prep. The song puts me in Laura’s mindset. But I’d listen before writing Darcy’s point of view, too. I’d also read a certain Rilke poem referenced in the novel and wave a wand three times. Call me superstitious. I’ve been called worse.
“Breathe” Melissa Etheridge. The heartfelt song plays when Darcy is first introduced and explains exactly how she feels about her father.
“Both Sides, Now” Joni Mitchell. The title and lyrics reference Equilibrium’s double-narrative and Laura’s hard-earned wisdom.
“Where Are We Runnin’?” Lenny Kravitz. This song is totally Darcy, full of teenage edge and energy.
“Fell in Love with A Boy” Joss Stone. Who do you think Joss is singing about? Who is the girl, or woman, in love?
“Never Again” and Nickelback’s Silver Side Up. “Never Again” fits Nick perfectly, and the album plays through one of the Nick-and-Darcy scenes. No one’s really listening after the first song, though.
Moondance Van Morrison. The entire album plays during a pivotal scene. If you’ve read the novel, you know why.
Train, Ray LaMontagne, and Adele. In Laura’s first chapter, she mentions listening to the artists listed above. I am not Laura. However, I do in fact own and enjoy Train Save Me, San Francisco, Ray LaMontagne and The Pariah Dogs God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise, and Adele 21.
The first time Laura Klein saved her husband’s life, she’d found his side of the bed cold at four a.m. Her throat clenched around the hard-edged understanding he’d gone off his medication again. She stumbled down the stairs in her nightgown, checked the yard, and raced down the street in her station wagon, her bare foot pressed to the accelerator. Half a mile away, she located his Corolla flipped on the side of Forest Road with Jack pinned beneath the dash, his leg broken in three places. After the Jaws of Life cut him from the wreckage, her atheist husband had smiled up at her and, with a wink and a grimace, declared himself born again.
The second time, Laura had followed a serpentine trail of spilled sleeping pills between the house and the tool shed and discovered Jack curled between the lawn mower and snow blower. She’d shaken him till a mild protest bubbled from his lips, and then, fingers twitching with relief, speed-dialed 911.
The third time Jack had tried to end his life, Laura had found his body.
Laura stood in Jack’s writing studio, the printer chugging out a copy of his estate tax returns behind her back. The late winter sunrise streamed through the wavy glass window and fell across the recently purchased futon. For months, the empty space had served as a reminder. Now, with the replacement futon back in its proper spot, she’d thought she could keep herself from rehashing the last moments of Jack’s life.
She’d thought wrong.
Laura snapped up the original returns and slipped from the studio into the mudroom that doubled as her home office. From the pocket of her robe, she took the skeleton key and locked the door behind her, wishing it were that easy to confine her memories. She set the papers on her desk and slid her checklist off the bookshelf. If she wrote things down, then she wouldn’t need to worry. Not as much.
Friday: Clean house, especially bathrooms, and split firewood. Pick up groceries at Market Basket. Bring Jack’s tax returns to the post office.
Serving as executor for Jack’s estate had kept Laura busy for more than ten months. She preferred her role as Jack’s editorial assistant, even though revising one of his literary novels often took longer than Jack spent writing a first draft.
A first draft would mentally exhaust him, depress him when he should’ve been celebrating. Several weeks later, Jack would trumpet his accomplishment and turn the house upside down, searching for the credit cards she’d hidden from him. Despite her best efforts, till the day Jack died, the man acted as though he’d no clue how thin a respectable mid-list author’s advances and royalties spread over a year.
“Jack.” She stroked her husband’s name and touched two fingers to her lips, mimicking the pressure of his soft mouth. Last kiss. “I love you so,” he’d said, and she’d glanced over her shoulder. Jack’s tall frame had filled their bedroom doorway the last time she’d seen her husband alive.
A thread of nausea tickled her throat, and she swallowed against a rapidly forming knot. She wrestled with her breath and recognized the excessively deep inhalations, a sure sign of hyperventilating. At Jack’s funeral, a panicked rumble had moved through the crowd, and her friend Maggie had held a crackling brown lunch bag over Laura’s nose and mouth, chanting breathing instructions. If she grayed out today, no one would come to her rescue.
She closed her eyes, focused on her breathing the way Maggie had taught her. Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. In and out, in and out. From the next room, the kitchen clock ticked the seconds. Her mind settled. Gradually, her breathing slowed.
Laura sighed, blinked her eyes open, and shoved the checklist onto the bookcase, disturbing the crowded shelf. Elastic-bound papers tumbled head over heels, then slapped the floor at her feet. Laura crouched and gathered up three manuscripts of hers she’d never complete, but couldn’t bear to toss. A story of family secrets. A journey of self-discovery. And a tale of losing and finding love. Each manuscript had grown from a facet of her life at the time of its writing. Each manuscript represented a missed opportunity she could never get back. Each manuscript stirred a stomach-plummeting falling-apart sensation of loss she resented. She needed to give herself a break. Her life hadn’t exactly been normal. She could barely remember normal.
Maybe six weeks from now, after commemorating the one-year anniversary of Jack’s death, she could finally work on a brand-spanking new creation. Unless she’d ignored inspiration so many times, she’d run out of chances. Over the course of their marriage, whenever she’d carved out a slice of time to focus on writing fiction, Jack would dive into a real-life crisis she couldn’t ignore. How could she blame him for his perfect timing? She shook her head, told herself her eyes stung from an allergy to dust, and forced the manuscripts back onto the shelf.
Family always came first.