When an unspeakable tragedy hits a small town, it changes the lives of the kids who grow up in the shadow it leaves behind. For Bee and her sister Audrina, their lives are never the same ever again. Our Little World is a coming-of-age debut novel from Karen Winn that is steeped in tragedy, self-reflection and the perils of being young in a world that forgets how much pressure falls upon children as the adults aren’t paying attention.
Winn beautifully captures the essence of an unspoken truth about childhood: kids know more than their parents realize. They’re listening. They’re watching. They’re observing. And, in the case of Our Little World, they’re connecting the dots.
Bee knows that there are things happening in her little world that don’t make sense. From the tension between her parents to the way Sally and Max’s mother retreats after Sally’s disappearance, life in Bee’s New Jersey town is never the same after Sally goes missing and the kids have a front row seat to the aftermath.
The relationship between Bee and Audrina is crafted with loving care and painstaking. They’re sisters but they’re also individuals with very different interests and goals. The way they’re treated by their parents is different, deepening the chasm that separates them as the girls grow up. However, even as they become different people, they’re always sisters and their love for each other never dies.
If you’re a fan of true crime documentaries or dramatizations, Our Little World will check all of the boxes. The story unravels at just the right pace so that you think you know what’s coming and then…you don’t. Winn has frozen a moment in time for a community rocked by tragedy. As everyone struggles publicly to come to terms with what happened, we see how life can never be the same. The key is how you move forward, or whether you move forward at all.
Now that summer has arrived, this poignant tale will make for the perfect book to pack on your vacation or to enjoy on a weekend at home.