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The Map of True Places
The Map of True Places
Author: Brunonia Barry
Brunonia Barry, the New York Times bestselling author of The Lace Reader, offers an emotionally compelling novel about finding your true place in the world. — Zee Finch has come a long way from a motherless childhood spent stealing boats—a tal...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780061624780
ISBN-10: 0061624780
Publication Date: 5/1/2010
Pages: 432
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 23 ratings
Publisher: William Morrow
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback, Audio CD
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reviewed The Map of True Places on + 289 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
In light of Herman Melville's line from Moby Dick--"It is not down in any map; true places never are"--Brunonia Barry's novel The Map of True Places is a wonderful attempt to capture the ephemeral, constantly changing, or ambiguous. Zee is the young protege of a famous psychotherapist, engaged to one of Beantown's most eligible bachelors. All is well, on paper at least, until Lilly, a bipolar patient with eerie similarities to her mother Maureen, commits suicide.

Crossing a professional boundary by attending Lilly's funeral, on the way back Zee drops by her hometown. She is shocked to find that her father Finch has thrown out his long-term partner Melville and that his Parkinson's disease has progressed much more than he has let on. She stays to stabilize her father's condition, changing the course of her own life along the way.

Barry manages to pull this story off well, despite its potentially melodramatic elements: a gay father who takes on a live-in lover after the mother's suicide, guilt over the inability to save mother and patient, and suspicions that the patient was stalked to her death. She masterfully weaves together the different threads connecting the back stories of Maureen, Finch, and Melville, Lilly's descent into mania, with the present reality of Finch's rapid deterioration into dementia. This intricate tapestry includes some romance and a thread of thriller towards the end. Zee's Salem is full of developed, sympathetic characters; indeed, Salem, MA with its maritime history is an integral backdrop.

My one quip --common to other life-changing homecoming novels--is the lack of insight into Zee's character between her leaving and returning to Salem. How did the troubled teenager of the prologue, who 'borrows' boats for joyrides after Maureen's death grow into the young woman with everything going for her, but clueless about what she actually wants? There's a vacuum there, which makes her ongoing adult life, and especially her fiance, seem like a straw man to knock down in favor of rediscovered priorities. Nonetheless, The Map of True Places was an enjoyable and ultimately uplifting read despite the heavy topics of mental illness, suicide, and progressive debilitating disease.

Condensed from my original review at
reviewed The Map of True Places on + 30 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Enjoyed this book so much! Highly recommended!
reviewed The Map of True Places on + 376 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
For me, the most interesting parts of this books were the references to Hawthorne and Yeats. I also learned quite a bit about the devestating effects of Parkinson's disease. I didn't find the characters very engaging and I thought there were too many story lines. If you want to know more about Salem, MA and its maritime history, you will like this book. If you want a book that you will remember, look elsewhere.
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reviewed The Map of True Places on + 468 more book reviews
I absolutely loved this book, and thought that it was even better than "The Lace Reader". I listened to this in the car during the week, and while at first I was annoyed by the narrator's voice, by the end of the book I was impressed by the great job she did in bringing all of the characters to life. Terrific writing and sense of place make this a highly recommended read.