Marilou Is Everywhere, by Sarah Elaine Smith
26 October 2021
Fourteen year old Cindy leads a brutally unhappy life. Her parents are elsewhere, leaving Cindy in the care of her older brothers, who have little interest – to say the least – in looking after her. But when another local teenager, Jude, goes missing, Cindy perversely sees an opportunity to improve her lot, in Marilou Is Everywhere (published by Penguin Books Australia, 28 September 2021), the debut novel of American author Sarah Elaine Smith.
Jude’s mother Bernadette, afflicted by alcoholism and mental illness, seems unaware her daughter vanished on a camping trip with friends, and unwittingly accepts Cindy as a surrogate. While Cindy is fully aware her charade is all shades of wrong, her longing for the presence of a loving parent, and a happy, stable, family life, is far more compelling.
Michael Schaub, writing for NPR, describes Marilou Is Everywhere as “a novel of stunning emotional intelligence, and Cindy an unforgettable character, but it’s Smith’s writing that’s the real star of the book. Her language is hypnotic and enchanting, with lines that read like poetry.” Sometimes it’s not so much the story, as the way it’s written, that draws me to a book, so this is a title I look forward to reading.