Brannagh Maloney escaped a troubled childhood home when she attended university. Years later, she has furthered that escape by working as a cataloguer for wilderness preservationist Nikolai Mirsky (Nikki) in northern Ontario.
After falling in love with her boss and spending the winter with him in an old abandoned prospector’s cabin, Brannagh faced Nikki’s sudden disappearance when he left for a weeklong conference never to return.
When Brannagh was three-years-old her father hopped a Russian freighter and was never seen again. Several years later, her mother left the family home, and was later found murdered. Brannagh lived with her Aunt Thelma and her grandfather in a large four-story house with a so-called Nervous Clinic on the top floor, and the Provincial Asylum two blocks away.
After Nikki’s disappearance, Brannagh felt the old familiar feelings of abandonment. Enter Annie, a childhood friend who hounded her into attending a reunion of a group of girls that had formed a club in eighth grade. Against her better judgment, she gives in goes back home to join the women.
It does not take Brannagh long to remember why she had not wanted to return. Old conflicts arise and she soon realizes she needs to face reality regarding her relationships, and who and what is important in her life.
She confronts her grandfather in an attempt to find out the truth about the past and his harsh treatment of her and her family. When the shocking truth is finally revealed, she feels her life tilt out of control, but at the same time, she realizes she has the opportunity to regain her footing and move on from the past.
Let the Shadows Fall Behind You by Kathy-Diane Leveille probes childhood traumas and how they affect the psychological makeup of someone who must later enter the mainstream of life. Not only did Brannagh face a traumatic family life, but also her childhood friends had their own issues, many of which became known during their reunion.
Leveille has written a compelling debut novel filled with characters that have their own issues or need to adjust their life because of the actions of others.
How each character responds to what has happened in the past, and how that shapes their life as an adult is part of the draw of this intense character study. Leveille swiftly moves between past and present, sometimes to some distraction, but the story moves at a rapid pace and does not disappoint.