The Long and Faraway Gone (Lou Berney, 2015) – Haunted by their past, two survivors of unresolved cases continue their search for closure twenty five years on.
Death is harder on the ones left behind. Two decades could not erase their pain, as two survivors continue their search for elusive answers, unknowingly falling back into the past at the great cost of the present.
A powerfully written novel, The Long and Faraway Gone is about guilt and grief in the aftermath of unexpected tragedies. Author Lou Berney puts us in the ragged souls of the ones left behind, such that we long for the answers as much as they do.
Page-turning mysteries make up this literary gem. Wyatt, the sole survivor of a theatre shootout that killed six others, still yearns for answers as to why he was left alive. Julianna, whose sister vanished at a State Fair, wonders why she was not the one taken.
But this is far from a whodunit. It is about the warm bodies left behind, disparate in how they choose to deal with their personal adversities. Years later, Wyatt and Julianna grow up to become outsiders to their own lives. Both are unable to move on, defined by the aching hole in their lives.
Where one may expect resolution to come in their shared bereavement, Lou Berney makes a fascinating choice. He has the pair remain strangers, for the most part. Their connection mostly lingers unspoken in their few serendipitous encounters. The absence of a single, big moment mirrors reality, where people often are unaware of each other’s pasts, yet capable of choosing empathy unconditionally.
We are given the key to the unsolved cases in the end, one that almost fits anyway. The whole truth hardly matters at that point. The survivors’ journey is what truly means more, them having survived up to this very moment and only now, truly begun to live.
Graceful in its revelations, The Long and Faraway Gone deftly explores guilt and grief in the aftermath of unexpected tragedies.