With Eli and Claire Bishop's two children off to college, the seafront Connecticut inn they run seems too large and too quiet. Eli keeps busy with his veterinary practice. Claire works as a psychologist from home. With no family to tend, she's reminded of her own father and the mother that abandoned them when Claire was two years old.
Two late-season guests disrupt the inn's solitude. Nicholas Pierce and his blind seven year-old daughter Kayla want to check in for a final vacation before school starts. According to Nicholas, his wife left the family as well.
Claire relates to Kayla growing up without a mother. Against her better professional judgment, Claire bonds with Kayla, not even noticing the suspicious behavior of Nicholas. His refusal to go anywhere without his briefcase fails to arouse Claire's professional radar.
The Bishops soon find that their guests aren't on vacation. Kayla may be in danger. Claire must put aside her own personal feelings of resentment and abandonment to realize Nicholas may not be as devoted a father as her own. The events that unfold are the subject of Drifting.
This Stephanie Gertler story starts strong. After decades of suppressed emotions, Claire attempts a meek search for her mother. At first, it seems the drifting in Drifting relates to Claire's feelings.
The entrance of Nicholas and Kayla will surprise readers expecting a reunion story. Gertler interrupts Claire's internal conflict to introduce an external one. The result is two separate stories that distract rather than compliment each other. One issue is resolved three-quarters of the way through the book, making the conclusion a mere afterthought.
Drifting is a decent novel, but it would have been better if Gertler dealt with Claire OR Nicholas and Kayla. Confronting both issues together weakens them individually. Consider this novel a nice weekend diversion, but not much more than that. You may also want to check out Gertler's earlier work