I really enjoyed this story. It centers around Joan in 1997 while she is cleaning out her recently deceased mother's house only to come across a suitcase with 6 unsent letters from her mother. Through the letters, she begins learning more about the woman that never treated her daughter with the warmth she deserved. You also hear more about Joan's unsatisfying life, although more attention is paid to the flashbacks showing a growing relationship between the mother (Kate) and someone she meets while working in Chicago.
There are a lot of things I loved about this book. I became very invested in the characters and their journeys, and it has some excellent angst and emotional goodies. There are things you find out early on in the book (that I won't spoil) but you still want to keep reading to find out how everything unfolds. There are also some surprises, and you never quite know everything until the very end.
That's not to say it's without problems. I felt there was an over usage of commas at the beginning, but I stopped noticing it (or it disappeared) when I got sucked into the story. I also felt I only had access to the most volatile parts of main characters' relationship for the most part, but once I finished the book, I better understood why that was necessary. They also seemed to have the same argument over and over, but then I believe that happens in every relationship, so that shouldn't make you put it down (it certainly didn't make me!).
Overall I had a very emotional response to the story, and it kept me invested to the very end. I'm not going to give anything away, but I will say that the book in it's entirety left me thinking that there is hope for us all, and I left the book with a smile on my face that's still there. Anyway, you should definitely pick this one up. I will be re-reading it at least once, for sure.