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The Change


The Change

Middle age. Menopause. Empty nest. Past her prime. The changes facing many women as they age physically, emotionally and professionally are often understood as challenges to fear or avoid. But more and more women consider them to be transformative and powerful. YA author Kirsten Miller embraces this mindset and uses it as the foundation for THE CHANGE, her first novel for adults. In it, three women find that their experiences and talents are not to be dismissed or downplayed as they work together to bring to justice a killer preying on teenage girls.

Harriett Osborne is not quite 50 and is at the peak of a successful advertising career. But she gets passed over for a well-deserved promotion in favor of a younger and less experienced man. Around the same time, her marriage falls apart, and her husband leaves their shared home in Mattauk, New York, to live with his new girlfriend in Brooklyn. Harriett lets her once overly groomed yard run riot, and her neighbors notice that her demeanor and appearance seem different.

"This page-turner checks all the boxes: a familiar premise made fascinating, interesting characters who are able to learn and grow, sly humor and an emotional heft."

The real shift, though, is interior. No longer concerned about what others think of her, Harriett frees her body and mind from former constraints. Most importantly, she cultivates her innate powers as she manages her new garden: she can harness nature in ways both beneficial and harmful. Those powers bring her to Nessa James and Jo Levison.

Nessa sees ghosts, and lately she has been visited by the ghosts of three girls desperate to be found. Alone since the death of her husband and with her adult daughters out of the house, Nessa has the energy and vision to use her inherited gift to help them.

Jo is the mother of a feisty daughter and the wife of an out-of-work husband. She used to run a high-end hotel but is now the owner of Furious Gym, a place for all kinds of women to safely exercise without judgment. Jo herself uses exercise to manage her feelings of anxiety and rage. Like Harriett’s command of nature and Nessa’s relationship to the dead, she has an amazing talent --- an unbelievable physical strength that she is just learning to command.

Once this coven is brought together, they discover the body of a young lady on a nearby beach. Nessa knows that the bodies of two other murdered women are in the vicinity, and all three come to realize that official investigative authorities will be of little help. THE CHANGE becomes an exciting whodunit as Harriett, Nessa and Jo find themselves peering into the lives of the ultra-rich community of Culling Pointe and the dangerous men who live there. Their powers assist them, but they are really guided by their compassion, pursuit of justice, and newfound understanding of themselves in particular and the abilities of mature women in general.

Miller melds three genres to create a literary supernatural thriller that, in lesser hands, could’ve been quite messy. However, THE CHANGE is delightful and skilled storytelling --- controlled, compelling and entertaining, yet deeply serious about violence against women, abuse of power, and the ways in which women can make real change in a world that often works against them. This page-turner checks all the boxes: a familiar premise made fascinating, interesting characters who are able to learn and grow, sly humor and an emotional heft.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on May 13, 2022

The Change
by Kirsten Miller