The story takes place in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, just as my first novel, “To Finish the Dance,” did. Loviisa is on a mission to rebuild her self-respect after her verbally abusive husband leaves her and their profoundly deaf daughter. She has a list of all the things he said she could never do, and she is determined to do them if it kills her.
Seth left the New York Fire Department after 9/11 and has escaped to rural Michigan, where he pursues his first love, music—and yet he finds that some memories are not easily left behind. He is reluctantly drawn into Loviisa’s struggle as well.
It was a question Loviisa Quinn had been asked hundreds, maybe thousands of times in her life. “How do you spell your name?” People would stumble at the double “i,” ask if it was Spanish or something. Spanish, Finnish, they’re all the same, she’d think with a mental eye roll. At the same time, she realized it was a bit much to expect people to be familiar with Finnish spellings.
Sometimes, when she was tired of answering it, she’d say, “Spell it just like it sounds: B - E - R - T.” Invariably, she’d get a blank stare. People had no sense of humor anymore.
For people who first encountered her name on screen or paper, the question was, How do you pronounce it? “Low-Visa,” she would explain. “Just think of a low balance on your credit card.” They would nod and smile and say something about how unique it was.
Today, however, she was giving her name to a lady with a clipboard before an audition, so she played it straight. She needed this job.