With the delicate stroke of his pen, Jay Quinn sets his subtle and wise domestic drama in South Florida where, at fifty-one, Maura Ostryder has found a measure of peace and contentment with her new partner, Matt, and the surprising news of a late-in-life pregnancy. Although the thought of having a baby now is daunting, the news comes at a strange and positive time when things have been going well. One thing is for sure: Maura feels nothing but affection and love for Matt, their lives as neatly arranged ďas the bowl of red apples on the dining room table.Ē
But Mauraís relative stability is in danger of being threatened when she gets a worrying phone call from her ex-husband, Rhett, telling her that her twenty-seven-year-old bi-polar son, Kai, will be returning to the fold.
She senses that her brittle, vulnerable only son is slowly slipping away, but she just wishes that he would finally get his act together. Like a ďdingy tied up to her stern,Ē she worries about this incessant need of Kaiís, and his constant desire to return home when the going gets tough.
Kaiís dilemma is difficult at best. As he drives from the Outer Banks in North Carolina down to his motherís place, he
comes to the sudden realization that something broke in him a long time ago, and he ďdoesnít think itíll ever be fixed.Ē Desperate to outrun everything heís left, especially his growing addiction to painkillers,
the departure of his new boyfriend, Robin, is Kaiís one regret, because almost overnight it seems as though Robin has become the one true love of his life.
It is imperative that Kai return to his medications for his bi-polar disorder.
He feels weighed down by his never-ending responsibilities, finding work and dealing with his increasingly confused affections for Robin.
He sees his motherís home as a refuge from potential calamity, a place where Kai can seek to redefine and reinvent himself and ponder the course of
his relationships. Maura once again finds herself bending to shield her son from the emotional winds that seem to come at him like some kind of monstrous hurricane.
Jay Quinnís intuitive character study plays out against the backdrop of Mauraís home. Kai constantly gravitates between mania and fatigue, desperately wanting to be alone with his thoughts but also desiring to confide in his mother about his life and his insecurities,
while his hands tremble when he smokes and he feels compelled to drink endless cups of coffee. With his psyche always on edge, he stares vacantly out
from the bay window. Even Maura notices that her son just canít seem to erase the tape and its endless loop
tormenting him afresh with every repetition, his moods ďdescending and cycling ever more rapidly from low to high, then to low.Ē
Capturing perfectly the essence of a conflicted young man at war with both his frail sexuality and bipolar disorder, the author presents a sensitive portrait of a mother who gravitates - sometimes selfishly - between wanting to be free of
her sonís anxieties yet also irrevocably bound by motherly love, whether she wants it or not.
For both Maura and Kai, the familial bonds are only ever loosened, never broken.
Itís a complicated set of circumstances that have led them to their dual paths in life so far.
The lovely little blue pills incessantly sing to Kai from the chest of drawers right beneath his bedroom window. A gateway to just letting him float and think, Kai must find a way to overcome their allure, a feat that can only be accomplished when the kindly Robin turns up in center of the drama, accepting an invite to spend Thanksgiving weekend with Kai, Maura and Matt, and Mauraís gentle but solitary boss, Bill Kellogg. All the while, Kai secretly hopes that his one true love will move down to be with him for good.
While Maura wonders how Kai is going to resolve his relationship with Robin and go about rebuilding his life in this world of adulthood, she worries about Matt,
who is so wonderful and understanding about Kai despite his initial reservations about integrating Kai into their lives. Luckily Matt is a man of action and figures out an inventive way to assimilate both Kai and Robin more successfully into Mauraís life, along with encouraging Kaiís bourgeoning sense of independence.
While his intimate portraits of Robin seem to keep Kai temporarily anchored, his greatest test is to keep in check the many memories and the sense of emptiness that threaten to claim him. In the end, buttressed by Robinís unconditional love and support, and with his brain chemistry flooded in a rush that is a physical fact of the state, Kai begins to take the necessary, tentative steps to finally put to rest some of his long-held inner demons.