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"The Mysteries," | Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider

Local readers will be drawn to “The Mysteries,” its narrative set in St. Louis in the 1970s, the novel peppered with references to local spots people will recognize. This alone makes the newbie a must-read, add an engaging, yet somber story and you’ll be mesmerized.

Author Marisa Silver, introduces us to two 7-year-old girls and their families, Miggy, short for Mary Ann Brenneman, from Maplewood, and Ellen from Webster Groves, a student at Mary Queen of Peace School. Though the girls’ neighborhoods butt up against one another, the emotional differences between the two friends is a chasm deep and wide.

Miggy is a handful, her parents are lenient yet now question the wisdom of their child-rearing skills because their daughter is wild, through and through. “She bursts with the desire to move, to speak, to sing, because there is So Much.”

Miggy is the exact opposite of her bestie Ellen, who follows rules and doesn’t make much of a fuss about anything. But at present Ellen hasn’t got it easy. Her mother recently delivered a baby boy and is holed up in her room,

“Her mother who needs her rest and has promised she will be back to her old self.” Prior to the birth, “Ellen’s mother was her mother. She took Ellen to the zoo in Forest Park to look at the apes with their somber expressions.”

Using the two girls as a vehicle to tell her heart-wrenching tale, Silver fills us in on the backstory of the two couples, how they met and such, amid the antics and ordinary goings-on of Miggy and Ellen, as they play together during a muggy St. Louis summer.

A mood of dreaded anticipation permeates the plot, readers getting the distinct feeling something is going to happen—and it does but well into the book, a tragedy that’s chilling. To divulge what occurs would ruin “The Mysteries,” which is beautifully written and thought provoking, a novel sure to stay with readers.

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