MEANING MACHINE.
Each member of the Thurston family is going through a unique and largely private hell in the wake of family tragedy, and they find that their coping strategies are far from compatible: Evie, Charlie's sister, takes on her dead brother's legacy, adopting his mannerisms and completing his college degree, even finding a girlfriend just like the girl who died with him in the crash. Lily, Charlie's mother, develops a robust relationship with her son's ghost, finding that the dead Charlie is preferable company to her distant husband and two surviving children. Richard, Charlie's father, employs strategies he uses in his work as a management consultant to tackle the problem of his son's death, and April, Charlie's youngest sister, struggles to navigate her rocky adolescence with little support from a family who can't see the living for the dead. Can they find their way back to each other?
Pix is flying home for yet another funeral. Fending off the advances of her seatmate, she has the rampant series of thoughts typical of a long flight: who am I? where am I going? how has it come to this? Her earthy mother dead and sainted, her father a distant workaholic with a girlfriend she hates so much it's almost like love, her husband prone to angry Calvanist silences (confusing her more tropical Catholic sensibilities), and now, her best friend and rival from childhood, overdosed after far too many cries for help. Like the topography below her, Pix's life slowly begins to take coherent shape as she decides, little by little, what she's been flying from—and where she might be been flying to.