This is the puzzle that Lakin sets out to solve in her novel of the same name. Within it she gives you plenty more and very entertaining they are. Some are so well known I found myself gnashing my teeth trying to remember the answers. Others were unknown to me but I knew I'd forget them by the time I finished the book because that's just the way my mind works.
In Lakin's quirky Timesniffers I learnt a thing or two about black holes and dark matter. In Conundrum I've had my mind expanded by poetry, plutonium and depression. I hasten to say, as I did with Timesniffers, that although it sounds like the novel will be hard going the opposite is true. Lakin has the knack of presenting heavy material in a totally digestible manner.
With the hope of saving her older brother Lisa Sitteroff sets out to find the truth behind their father's suspected suicide 26 years before when they were small children. Set against the sparingly but evocatively-described San Francisco area Lakin takes you on an engrossing journey into how depression can ravage sufferers and their families.
The short snippets of poetry are so apt I found myself -- no lover of poetry -- lingering on them and wondering at her store of knowledge that she had them at her fingertips to weave into the narrative.
Lakin writes well. Her descriptions are economical and visual. She grabs your emotions with her characters; towards the end, as the pieces start to come together, I found myself with a tight throat on several occasions.
I feel she is going to become one of my favorite authors.