Terrace Story – which I consistently want to call Terrace House, which doesn’t make any sense at all, but there are brains for you – Terrace Story is a moving puzzle box of a novel. It’s short enough that you can whip through it in a single afternoon, if you’d like – but there no need to rush this. In fact, there’s so much more to appreciate, so many callbacks packed into such a short space – it’s almost as if this book about bending time and space is also bending some sort of space-time continuum in novel structure.
With prose that invites curiosity, Leichter ends the first section with the arrival of a powerful grief. From that first section, the next three parts bounce around through time and space, alighting briefly with a new focal point. It’s as though we the reader are aiming a telescope seemingly randomly throughout the universe – then, magically, something aligns and the world is in focus again. In each section, you sense that alignment just before you realize what she is calling back to, what that name references, what that pile of rocks represents.
This novel is a brief adventure for which you will feel richly rewarded in its aftermath. It pulses with love, and aching humanity. It asks big questions about loss and coping and then has us ricochet around the universe looking for tiny, almost imperceptible answers. Someone option this book and tell Jessie Buckley her next project has arrived.