The premise of Amy and Isabelle is a bit creepy. Sixteen-year-old Amy and her mother Isabelle live alone, Amy’s father having died when she was just a baby. Isabelle is rather reserved and has no social life, but she and Amy have a good relationship. Then Amy begins an affair with her math teacher, and they are caught together by Isabelle’s boss, causing a rift between mother and daughter. The teacher leaves town, but Amy remains convinced he will return for her.
Meanwhile, Isabelle is going through personal issues of her own. The pregnancy of Amy’s friend Stacy dredges up bad feelings for Isabelle, and it becomes obvious that the reason she isn’t close to anyone is because she is unwilling to open up about her past.
I really liked watching how Amy and Isabelle’s relationship changes throughout the book. There was also an interesting shift of focus - the first part of the story was all about Amy and her illicit relationship and everything she was going through, but then it turns to Isabelle, her romantic history, and her self-imposed isolation. This sort of insight into characters’ personalities is exactly what I loved about Olive Kitteridge, so I really enjoyed going back and reading this older novel.