Among the Grackle
by Maria Naccarato

"We make a choice, but both potential outcomes happen simultaneously - somewhere, there's an alternate you that experienced the alternate outcome and is completely unaware of this reality."

Elle Serrano is a rising banking executive who's increasingly concerned about her global conglomerate's pending, sweeping takeover of small, independent banks in a high-foreclosure area of California. New legislation will allow BancCorp to foreclose on homeowners whose mortgages have gone delinquent in the past two years, even if their payments are now current. Ellie Shimizu is a California wife and mother whose medical bills, after she slipped into a coma giving birth three years ago, wrecked havoc on her family's finances. For a brief stretch, their mortgage went unpaid. Elle and Ellie are one and the same, living out alternate realities after a wrenching personal choice split them into two parallel consciousnesses. Now, their worlds seem destined to collide.

Naccarato weaves an intelligent, current, insightful novel that uniquely explores how corporate greed affects individual consumers. It's also deeply personal and evocative, and philosophically poignant, in its exploration of how choices indelibly alter our life course. Naccarato does a commendable job of alternating chapters between Elle and Ellie, believably weaving in important supporting characters such as family and lovers who appear in both realms but have altered perspectives, circumstances, and challenges based on the two divergent courses. The author's background in finance and her skill as a writer are dually evident as she lays out BancCorp's scheme and boardroom climate in just the right amount of detail that will engage but not overwhelm non-finance-minded readers. An impressive first novel by a debut author to watch.

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