The Chrysalis Phase refers to the last stage in the development of a butterfly from a caterpillar to an adult, as it emerges from its cocoon or chrysalis, unfolds its wings and flies free.
This coming-of-age story focuses on 19-year-old twin girls who push themselves toward adulthood by defying their parent's plans for the summer after their freshman year in college in order to explore the vicissitudes of a wider world.
Sarah, the risk-taker, secretly sneaks off with a friend from school to his hometown in Kumasi. Ghana. She is attracted to him even though he is struggling with his true sexual identity. He and Sarah have a short but intense affair that ends abruptly when Daren admits that he has renewed his relationship with his former partner. Sarah quickly arranges a visit to her French father's cousin, who lives in a small village in the suburbs of Toulouse, France. Soon after her arrival, she discovers that she is pregnant.
Margot, the "reasonable" one begins a planned internship at an environmental law firm in Washington, DC. where her mother used to work. Margot is soon asked to transfer to a non-profit in Annapolis, Maryland. There she meets a local reporter and agrees to become his assistant as he investigates rumors of kickbacks and fraud concerning illegal dumping into the Chesapeake Bay of the waste from an alarmingly increasing number of chicken farms along the Delmarva Peninsula. She agrees to remain in Annapolis until the end of the year, thus taking a leave of absence from the Ivy league university she attends.
Abigail, the twin's American mother, is going through some growing pains of her own, both personally and professionally. She struggles to be her own person within a difficult relationship with her mother, just as her daughters are breaking away from her ability to control their life.
The novel explores many themes, and the action amps up to include the meaning of commitment, protection of the environment, and the notion of "home". However, the push and pull of mother-daughter relationships is the connective tissue throughout the narrative, as each generation learns from the former what resonates and what each must reject to flourish within her own unique being.