Lianne is the wife of Keith, the survivor of the 9/11 attacks. She is 38 years old as the novel begins and has been separated from Keith for a while, living alone with their son, Justin. She works as a freelance editor of books and is assigned different tasks by Carol Shoup, the executive editor of the publishing house and a friend of hers. Lianne’s outer appearance is only sparsely described: "She was darkish […] with large eyes and wide mouth […]" (p. 129, ll. 24-25, ch. 7).
Lianne’s quiet everyday life with Justin is disturbed when Keith suddenly shows up at her doorstep covered in ashes and blood.
Relationship with Keith
Lianne and Keith have met eight years before the actions of the novel begin. They were very much in love and could hardly keep their hands off each other: "Sex was everywhere at first […]" (p.7, l. 2, ch. 2).
According to her mother, Lianne is attracted to danger, and this is also why she was fascinated with Keith in the first place (p. 11, ch.2). We learn only very little about their marriage, but it seems that Keith started staying out late and acted violently so that Lianne became afraid of him (p. 103-104, ch. 6). After their separation, Keith moved out of their apartment and Lianne stayed there with Justin.
However, Keith moves back in with them after 9/11 and he soon starts sharing a bed with Lianne again. Lianne initiates a conversation about getting back together and Keith consents, although he seems less dedicated to the project (p. 75, ch. 5).
Lianne soon begins to feel that Keith is absent-minded and not really there with them, even when he physically is. Keith starts playing poker and is away for days in a row. It seems like Lianne can predict how he is going to behave before he even knows: "You’re going to drift away. I’m prepared for that. You’ll stay away longer, drift off somewhere […]"(p. 214, ll. 15-16, ch. 12)
This gives the reader the impression that Keith has always had a habit of running away from problems and that Lianne has never really been able to count on him.
Lianne as a mother
Lianne is the mother of Justin, who is seven years old at the time of the terrorist attacks. He knows he can count on his mother and that she, unlike Keith, isn’t going to abandon him: "' I’m not going anywhere.' 'Don’t you think I know that?' "(p. 201, ll. 8-9, ch. 11).
They have been used to living alone after Lianne and Keith separated. Lianne tries her best to fil...