I bought a gently used copy of The Gravity of Birds by Tracey Guzeman at Longfellow Books in Portland, ME. The novel alternates between a cast of main characters and jumps back and forth in time to tell the story of the Kessler sisters and their complex (and at times, hard to stomach) relationship with famed painted Thomas Bayber.
Overshadowed by her beautiful and headstrong older sister Natalie, Alice (who is shy and bookish) develops a childhood crush on Thomas when her family vacations at a cabin near his summer residence. Their relationship grows complicated, however, when she begins to suspect Thomas of secretly sleeping with her older sister. Years later, when Alice runs into the painter again, fate intervenes to throw her, Natalie, and Thomas onto a permanent path of heartache and collision. The bulk of the novel's plot centers on the mystery of what occurred so long ago between Thomas and the Kessler sisters, with Finch, an art history professor, and Stephen, an art authenticator, racing time to uncover the answers.
The Gravity of Birds is written in the third person and switches between following Alice, Stephen, and Finch. While the mystery was enough to keep me reading, I found myself disappointed by the complicated yet too-neatly-wrapped-up reveal/ending. The mirrored metaphors felt heavy-handed to me and much too "soap-opera chic" for a book that started out so promisingly with it's exploration of taboo love and sibling rivalry.