Steel (The Ranch, 1997, etc.) actually manages to minimize child abuse in this saccharine take on tragedy. Poor little...

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THE LONG ROAD HOME

Steel (The Ranch, 1997, etc.) actually manages to minimize child abuse in this saccharine take on tragedy. Poor little Gabbie is not only a victim. She is the Victim's Victim. Her wealthy mother Eloise feels jealous of her: She abuses Gabble almost daily for the first decade of her life. She starves her, smashes her dolls, and breaks her ribs every Christmas. She bruises her kidneys and cuts up her face. But Gabbie's emotional wounds are even worse, for Eloise has persuaded her that everything wrong with the family is her fault. Meanwhile, Gabbie's father is a prodigious weakling who drinks to forget his terrible home life, eventually deserting both daughter and wife. In what is probably an act of mercy, Gabbie's mother runs off with another man and abandons the girl at a Manhattan convent. To protect herself from a malevolent world, Gabble decides to become a nun. But the world has other plans for this girl whose tribulations make those of Job look like chopped liver. She falls in love with a priest and becomes pregnant (after all, what do priests know about condoms?). The priest then commits suicide; after a painful miscarriage, Gabbie almost dies. To top it off, the church forces her out of the convent with only $500 and two badly tailored dresses to her name. She's seduced by a con man, then robbed and beaten within an inch of her life. At this point, Gabble decides to be a victim no longer. She tries to find her mother, visits her father, and conveniently meets a nice young doctor. After her bruises heal, the physician (unsurprisingly) falls in love with her. Steel goes to battle with yet another worthy cause, but her good intentions this time fizzle in a sea of †ber-melodrama.

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1998