How to describe this book? To say that I found it moving it’s selling it low. The following commentary contains spoilers for the book, so proceed with caution.
Drifting, is about a mother’s non-existent relationship with her own mother. We’re introduced to her and her husband as empty nesters and she’s struggling to adapt to it. The memory of her mother walking out on her when she was a very young girl and her father’s eventual passing stir the ‘what ifs’ that serve as a catalysis for when a single father and his daughter arrive to stay at their b&b.
She understands the father when he mentions that his daughter’s mother wanted to send her away, and feel a pang of sympathy towards them over it due to her own experience. As the book progresses Gertler takes us on an roller coaster exploration of the relationships between mother and daughter and father and daughter.
When we finally get to see the truth, that the mother wasn’t the monster the father had described and that the child was a victim of parental kidnap it sends her into a spin to do the right thing for the child’s sake (as she suffers from eye problems).
It is heartbreaking to see the scene when mother, grandmother and daughter reunite and hear the child’s fears vocalized as to what her father had told her (mother wanted to send her away, grandmother was dead), our protagonist finds herself wanting to form a bond or at least some sort of contact with her own mother.
It’s painful to read her visiting her mother and realizing that maybe contact is the only thing she can hope for. And as she leaves and looks back, it’s moving to see that her mother has a small part of the window dressing open so she can see her. And she hopes for the best.