When you invite a stranger into your home, you never know who’s really coming in . . .
Myra is a Manhattan psychotherapist. A quick study and an excellent judge of character, she thinks she knows what she’s getting when she hires a nanny—it’s her job, after all, to analyze people. Her phobia-addled son has just moved back in with his wife and child, and the new nanny, Eva, seems like a perfect addition: she cleans like a demon and irons like a dream, and she forms an immediate bond with Myra’s grandson.
But as Eva, a Peruvian immigrant, reveals more of herself, what seemed a felicitous arrangement turns ominous. She racks the household with screams from a night terror. She spits in her hands to ward off evil spirits. Then, one afternoon, she settles into Myra’s patient chair and begins to expose the secrets of her past. Their relationship slowly and inexorably becomes too close, too dependent, and, ultimately, terrifyingly destructive. As events spiral out of Myra’s control, she learns that even a family as close-knit as her own can have plenty to hide.
In the rich tradition of Lionel Shriver, Jane Hamilton, and Anne Tyler, the psychoanalyst and novelist Lisa Gornick tells us a story about the tragedy of good intentions. Tinderbox spins a suspenseful mystery of hidden traumas. It’s a searingly perceptive, deeply honest novel about families and secrets, and power, and love.