Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen

Author Amy Gail Hansen went to Carthage College in Kenosha and her debut novel is set at Tarble College, a fictional women’s college in Kenosha that is based on the Carthage campus. (As an alumna of Carthage I really enjoyed the descriptions of the campus!) Main character Ruby Rousseau dropped out of Tarble at the end of first semester her senior year after trying to commit suicide. She is now living with her mother in Oak Park, IL and seeing a therapist. Then a suitcase arrives at her house with her name on the tag. She borrowed the suitcase from Beth Richards, an acquaintance at college. Ruby contacts Beth’s mother in Milwaukee and finds out that Beth is missing. The story then backtracks to Ruby’s previous year before she left Tarble. Ruby was still grieving for her deceased father and working on her senior thesis about Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own when she started an affair with a married English professor named Mark Suter that ended disastrously for her. Now the mystery of Beth Richards and the suitcase is drawing Ruby back to Tarble. Although Ruby is still emotionally fragile, she goes to the Tarble reunion weekend where she meets up with her former roommate Heidi and a recently-hired sympathetic professor of English. Ruby discovers that she and Beth had more in common than the borrowed suitcase. There are suspenseful twists and turns at the end as Ruby discovers what happened to Beth and comes to her own self-realization. This is a good choice for people who like psychological suspense stories with the added bonus of a Wisconsin connection.

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