The Strange Inheritance Of Leah Fern is contemporary fiction. Leah’s twenty-first birthday gift to herself was going to be suicide; she’d been planning it for years. However, a knock at her door changed everything.
Until she was six, Leah lived in a carnival with her mother who was a magician. One day her mother took Leah on an adventure which ended with Leah being left with a man called Edward Murphy. The stranger at the door gave Leah a box which contained a letter from Essie East; someone who claimed to know Leah’s mother. Essie laid a trail; nine letters posted to specific places in North America for Leah to collect, each one would tell more of her mother’s story.
Mingled with the road trip are chapters from the past; snippets from Leah’s time at the carnival and her early years living with Edward. While the road trip sprinkles details about places, people and the contents of Essie’s letters. Every letter paints a larger picture of Leah’s mother and where she might be now.
I liked this story with its touches of magical realism. The author wove a wonderful tale which I was invested in almost as much as Leah. I needed to open each letter and find the next instalment just as much as Leah. The ending was a little unexpected, but it suited the rest of the story, leaving me pondering, which is not a bad thing.
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A luminous coming of age story about a fiercely lonely young woman’s quest to uncover the truth behind her mother’s disappearance.
Born in a carnival trailer, Leah Fern begins her life as the “The Youngest and Very Best Fortuneteller in the World,” taking strangers’ hands and feeling the depths of their emotions. Her mother Jeannie Starr is a captivating magician, but not always an attentive mother, and when Leah is six, Jeannie upends their carnival life with an unexpected exit. With little fanfare and no explanation, she leaves her daughter at the home of Edward Murphy, a kindly older man with whom Leah shares one fierce wish: that Jeannie Starr will return to them.
After fifteen years as a small-town outcast , Leah decides to end her life on the occasion of her twenty-first birthday. But the intricate death ritual she has devised is interrupted by a surprise knock on her door. Her mysterious neighbor, the curmudgeonly and reclusive art photographer Essie East, has died and left Leah a very strange inheritance. Through a series of letters, Essie will posthumously lead Leah on a journey to nine points on the map, spanning from South Carolina to Canada to the Arctic Circle—a journey that, the first note promises, will reveal the story of Leah’s mother.
Driven by a ferocious resurgence of hope, Leah embarks on this bizarre treasure hunt, Essie’s ashes in a jeweled urn in the passenger seat of her truck. Along her way, she visits islands, libraries, diners, and defunct ice cream parlors, meeting a charming cast of eccentric characters and immersing herself in wonders of the natural world.
An enchanting novel about the transcendent powers of the imagination, the magic of the threshold between past and present, and the courage it takes to love, The Strange Inheritance of Leah Fern explores the unlikely, at times adversarial, and ultimately redemptive relationship between a young woman who has forgotten how to live and a dead woman who summons her to remember.