My Mother’s Shadow: A NaNoWriMo Synopsis

My Mother’s Shadow begins in 1982, as eight-year-old Amy is brought into the principal’s office at her elementary school to be told that her mother has just died in a car accident. Throughout her childhood, Amy holds this information as a secret that she shares with no one other than the girl who becomes her best friend in high school, Anna, a smart, quirky and confident young woman. Although she lives with loving foster parents, Amy longs for the perfect family life that she believes Anna to have. Unbeknownst to Amy, Anna’s mother is actually a dominating and abusive woman who prioritizes appearances and her social status over any love or genuine caring for her daughter.

Amy and Anna’s friendship spans the years as they grow up, go to college, and Amy marries and has a daughter of her own. Both women are happy in their careers and their lives. They begin to grow apart however, and, during her daughter’s toddler years, Amy realizes that Anna has completely cut her out of her life. Perplexed by Anna’s behavior and desperate to recapture their long-standing friendship, Amy reaches out repeatedly to her friend, but is unsuccessful in making contact with Anna. Ultimately, she relents, believing the friendship to be lost forever.

Anna, meanwhile, has a secret of her own. During a ski weekend, she meets a kind, easy-going, middle-aged woman, Evelyn, who seems very familiar to her. In her quest to figure out who Evelyn is, Anna begins to develop a friendship with her. Through clues gleaned from a number of conversations and various turns of events, Anna ultimately realizes that Evelyn is actually Amy’s lost mother. Anna is initially tortured by this knowledge and what to do with it, but over time, makes the decision that it is not her role to disclose this to Amy. Her guilt over concealing this information is the primary reason that Anna stops all contact with Amy. At the same time, she develops a close relationship with Evelyn, who represents to Anna both the loving mother she never had and the friend she has lost in Amy.

Years later, Amy discovers that her mother did not actually die and learns the reason that she abandoned her. With her world rocked by this information, Amy feels compelled to seek out Anna to tell her what she’s learned, given that Anna was originally Amy’s only confidante about her mother’s death. When Anna doesn’t react as Amy hopes she will, Amy is crushed and she leaves, expecting never to see Anna again. Shortly thereafter, Anna learns information that leads her to finally tell both Amy and Evelyn the truth, and the three women deal with the myriad consequences of the choices they’ve made and the secrets they’ve kept.

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