From novelist Hower (Night Train Blues, 1996, etc.), a generous but unconvincing portrait of a fragile cowgirl who finds...



From novelist Hower (Night Train Blues, 1996, etc.), a generous but unconvincing portrait of a fragile cowgirl who finds love at rehab. Twenty-one-year-old June is a tough-but-tender six foot one redhead who vows to give up booze after a violent brawl in a Wyoming bar. She narrates her stint at The Pines, a New England country-clubbish rehab and psychiatric hospital where the patients are called ""guests"" and the women wear pearls to dinner. June perks up when someone her age arrives: Jack is a scruffy and laconic sometime college student hung up on another woman. After some initial spats, though, the two start taking walks and talking. Jack reveals childhood trauma, and June talks about her brother Bobby, who shot himself. Meantime, June's avuncular shrink helps her realize how responsible she's felt for her brother's attempted suicide, while her various patient pals indulge in antic goings-on. But despite a tendency to be caretaker at large, June's bravado breaks down over Jack: Are they friends or are they flirting? Her sole experience with men consists of being groped and assaulted by drunken cowboys. Can she handle sober, friendly sex? Well, she can, actually, because she and Jack are unguarded, honest, and wildly attracted to each other. But the new attachment brings a new fear: What will happen to the affair after they've both been discharged? In spite of occasional powerful moments, such as an outbreak of collective hostility among the patients during a screening of Suddenly Last Summer, the action lags for most part, punctuated only by actings out, and by June and Jack's farfetched romance. Worse, June remains a cipher: while she's portrayed as a popular den-mother who's both tomboyish and vulnerable, her character seems more self-consciously eccentric than genuinely confused. An inoffensive fairy tale, then, of speedy healing and plain-talking young love.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997


Page Count: 220

Publisher: Permanent

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1997

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