By the author of the novel that was made into the award-winning film JoJo Rabbit, Christine Leunens’ novel In Amber’s Wake (Bateman’s Books 2022) is a similarly forensic examination of relationship dynamics and motivations, and the aftershock effects of choices.

The book is set in New Zealand in the 1980’s amidst the backdrop of the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior, the Springbok rugby tour protests and the anti-nuclear movement, but it is a story of a lifelong romance and what happens when decisions and actions can have powerful consequences. Environmental activist Amber Deering enjoys a deep friendship and on again / off again romance with film student Ethan Grieg but instead marries Stuart Reeds, a charming investor and widower two decades older. As a not so subtle rivalry develops between the two men, all three characters make choices that lead to momentous and life-changing situations. Exploring themes of love, friendship, loyalty, family dysfunction, grief and illness set against a backdrop of social change and politics, this novel is written with assured prose and in a distinct and engaging voice. The timeframe takes the reader back and forth in time, each chapter unearthing more secrets.

Also, this book has the nicest page paper stock I’ve felt in ages. (It’s the small details.)