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The relationship between Heather Katchadourian and Julie Howe is complicated. Over the past two decades, they’ve been just about everything to each other: boarding school roommates, best friends, lovers, rivals, even co-parents—both together and estranged. Will they find their way back to each other, or have they inflicted too much damage along the way? Reminiscent of the work of Meg Wolitzer, and narrated by Heather, Julie, their lifelong friends, partners, and children, The Light Source is a prismatic portrayal of what everlasting modern love truly looks like and reminds us that what’s meant-to-be becomes harder to define with age.
“A deeply honest, emotional powerhouse of a debut by Kim Magowan, The Light Source is told through the individual voices of boarding school friends whose lives and relationships interweave and unravel by turns. At its core, two women share a fragile, complicated love marred by denial and betrayal. It is because Magowan’s people are so real, so flawed and funny and smart and hurting, that they compel us so. This novel brilliantly and movingly demonstrates the power of forgiveness and self-acceptance, and that which we so often forget: How by opening the one door we’ve always stubbornly refused to, we are at last rewarded with light.”
~ Kathy Fish, author of Wild Life: Collected Works from 2003-2018
In Kim Magowan’s aptly titled debut short-story collection, Undoing, characters are frequently caught with their eyes on the past, trying to discern where it all went wrong, whether that concerns a marriage that survives infidelity only to fade later into oblivion or the premature termination of an affair.
“Burgeoning clouds of longing and desire cast shadows across the young characters’ in Kim Magowan’s debut collection, darkening their features, leaving them exposed and illuminating their innermost identities in flashes of literary lightning. Alternatingly forlorn and hopeful, these jeweled stories bristle with transgression, seduction and a frisson of transcendent possibility.”
– Adam Johnson, author of The Orphan Master’s Son and Fortune Smiles.
A young girl hopes to make sense of her seduction by the father of the child she babysits, while a new wife surveys her youthful indiscretions for clues as to how to forge an emotional bond with her anorexic stepdaughter. Through it all, struggles become universal, perhaps inevitable. Characters often reappear: older, wiser, seeking to break the cycle of dysfunction. The ultimate effect is a feeling of community, of shared mistakes, leaving the individuals lonely but not alone.
In this way, Magowan’s collection moves well beyond reflection. Ignoring the wreckage of their respective pasts, her characters are willing to look ahead, to try again. Indeed, there is much pain and lasting harm to go around, but these are curious, resilient people, open to the idea that the solutions, not just the problems, lie within. They hope, despite much evidence to the contrary, that they can undo what has been done.