Emily Cavanagh’s debut novel, The Bloom Girls, is a soulful tale of sisters struggling to face unique personal challenges after their father’s untimely death. Told from the perspectives of three sisters, the story raises questions such as: Can secrets protect without doing harm? At what age are we held accountable for our actions? When is it legitimate to write off a family member?

The book was published by Lake Union Publishing and on Saturday, Ms. Cavanagh, an English teacher at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, hosted a book party at Island Images Gallery in Oak Bluffs.

In the opening scene of the novel, youngest sister Suzy Bloom is cracking egg after egg, struggling to perfect a soufflé while also trying not to vomit. She’s new to her job at Food Art Magazine and newly pregnant. Her fingers are crossed that her third try will be a success when a supervisor informs her that she has a phone call. Her father just died of a brain aneurysm. This sets in motion both the plot and heart of the story as the Bloom sisters reunite at the seaside cottage in Portland, Maine where their father lived. But each one of them is carrying some secrets from their own lives.

Suzy is a newly self-proclaimed lesbian and the abortion she had planned is delayed due to her father’s death. Cal, the oldest sister, is an ambitious lawyer who Ms. Cavanagh says, “is me at my worst: overworked and uptight.”

Cal organizes everything, from her kids lives to her husband’s flabby belly. But when she hears about her father’s death, she completely shuts down: “Cal wasn’t ready to deal with any of it. She wanted to wrap her grief around her like a cloak and be subsumed by it.”

Violet is the feisty middle child and a poet. She recently broke up with her beloved boyfriend, and on the morning of her father’s passing is sleeping on a friend’s thrift store couch. Violet, we learn, “uses sex for everything — as a weapon, a past-time, an ice-breaker, an escape. Surely this would be her way to grieve as well.”

As the sisters convene in Maine, readers hear the “oyster shells crunch beneath tires” and see “quaint shops . . . several of them closed for the season.”

While this may make Vineyarders feel at home, the sisters feel otherwise as they are confronted with confusion and guilt. When they were teenagers, their father had been accused of sexual misconduct while teaching at a private high school. Although not every sister knows the circumstances, their family was nevertheless changed irrevocably. Now, these details come to light again.

Over bottomless cups of coffee shared on frosty days in Portland, the three sisters speak their minds and eventually realize the importance of going backwards before they can move forward.

For those who enjoy a fast read that has substance, The Bloom Girls fits nicely. And fans can expect more in the way of strong female characters from Ms. Cavanagh. Next out in 2018 is her novel, This Bright Beauty, a tale of two sisters coping with distance, parenthood and mental illness.