Karen returns to Nova Scotia to care for her developmentally disabled sister, Kelli, after their mother passed away from her life-long cancer battle. Consumed with grief, guilt and the pressure of caring for Kelli full-time, Karen feels overwhelmed with responsibility until Trevor, one of Kelli’s many caregivers, oversteps his role and offers her extra help and a shoulder to cry on. But Trevor’s “helping-hand” begins to isolate and suffocate the sisters' lives, and he won’t let go!
This book hit very close to home. As the younger sibling of a developmentally disabled brother, I too felt Karen’s struggle with loving her sister but also wanting a life outside of being her caregiver. Kelli’s disability was never specified, but her mannerisms and needs were very similar to my brother’s (who has down syndrome), so I saw a lot of my brother in Kelli. Having a disabled family member takes all of your patience, love and energy--and Kelli’s mother Irene had given all of it until her last breath.
Yes, this was a creepy, compelling thriller, and the main plot of Trevor’s obsession with the sisters was executed wonderfully and organically, but the core of this story was Karen and the internal selflessness that she opens her heart to once Kelli is fully in her care. You won’t walk away from this mystery worried about the bad caregivers--you’ll be grateful for the good ones. — Kirstin Swartz
From the author of the Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning story collection Hellgoing--an electrifying, brooding novel about the lengths we go to care for family, and what happens when a stranger places himself at the center of one household.
"Watching You Without Me is like a Lorrie Moore book suffering a Patricia Highsmith fever dream. You slide right along on Coady's witty and endearing style, and meanwhile the trap has closed over you without your ever standing a chance." --Jonathan Lethem
After her mother's sudden death, Karen finds herself back in her childhood home in Nova Scotia for the first time in a decade, acting as full-time caregiver to her older sister, Kelli. Overwhelmed and consumed by the isolation of her new role, Karen finds a shoulder to cry on in Trevor--one of Kelli's caregivers. Karen gratefully accepts his friendship and comes to trust him all the more when she discovers how close Trevor was to her mother, Irene. But all is not as it appears to be. What begins with friendly advice and someone to talk to soon takes a dark and mysterious turn. Who is this person Karen has let into her home and into her family's life? How well does she know the stranger she has entrusted with her sister's well-being? As Trevor slowly weaves himself into Karen and Kelli's lives, Karen starts to grasp the unsettling truth about him and his relationship with her mother--and to experience for herself the true and dangerous nature of Trevor's "care."
About the Author
LYNN COADY is a Canadian novelist, journalist, and TV writer, originally from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, and now living in Toronto. She has published six books of fiction, including the collection of short stories Hellgoing, which won the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the novel, The Antagonist, short-listed for the 2011 Giller Prize.
Since 2014 she has worked on the TV series Orphan Black, Sensitive Skin, Michael: Every Day, Mary Kills People, and The Disappearance, among others.
“Thank God for Lynn Coady’s singular voice and deliciously skewed worldview. Every book of hers is an occasion to celebrate!” —Miriam Toews, author of Women Talking
“Expertly rendered characters, easy reading plot, and excellent pacing . . . With Watching You Without Me, Coady showcases just how smooth her writing is . . . We’ve come to expect a certain level of excellence from Lynn Coady. Watching You Without Me lives up to this expectation.” —Dory Cerny, Quill and Quire
“Watching You Without Me is both a suspenseful, deeply creepy page-turner and a beautifully subtle character study of a grieving woman slowly unravelling while trying to understand how to care for her sister, and herself, in an ableist world. Another masterpiece from the singular Lynn Coady.” —Zoe Whittall, author of The Best Kind of People “Emotionally complex, with the twists of a chilling thriller, Coady's novel explores mother-daughter and male-female relationships, what it means to be a family, the rewards of selflessness versus selfishness, and the human need not to be alone.” —Mary Ellen Prindiville, Booklist
“Coady’s unsettling tale of a clingy family caregiver explores a woman’s grief over the death of her mother and her struggle to take care of her intellectually disabled sister . . . Coady impresses with her careful, humane characterization . . . [Watching You Without Me] stands out for its incisive, bleakly humorous look at gullibility and the complexities of guilt.” —Publishers Weekly
“A woman returns to her childhood home to settle her late mother's affairs . . . A thoughtful and intense drama about how insidiously family ties can be exploited." —Kirkus