A slender first novel revisits that well-trod territory of troubled mother-daughter relationships -- and tries to revitalize it with a multicultural spin. When almost-30 Amanda, still a temp, meets Senegalese Adam selling books on a Manhattan sidewalk, she decides to get to know ""this interesting and different person [because] she hated most of the people she met in New York anyway."" And so Amanda pursues Adam with self-absorbed energy fight into a one-stand -- which of course makes her pregnant. Still, though she has no money, doesn't get on with her own mother, and Adam's disappeared, she's not worried: Now she can leave the hateful city and make a new life in Maine, a place she loves. There, her daughter, Caroline -- born in the frigid and isolated house Amanda rents -- grows up angry and unhappy because Amanda, who works at dead-end jobs and has affairs with local married men, doesn't understand her. School, where Caroline is tormented for being and looking different, is no better; and though college is a slight improvement, it's still in cold Maine. Deciding that ""somewhere there had to be more,"" Caroline joins the Peace Corps and heads to West Africa to find Adam. Once there, however, she's side-tracked by mandatory classes, work, and a lingering reluctance to take the final step -- until a chance encounter takes her to her father's village. She introduces herself, but Adam is not exactly welcoming. ""Children are always being born,"" he tells her. ""It's the way of the world."" There's no point in blaming Amanda or Adam, Caroline now realizes: ""I can do anything, it's really up to me."" An exotic African locale and some graceful writing can't save a story that relies so heavily on improbabilities, coincidences, and stereotypes.
Pub Date: May 30, 1995
Page Count: 164
Publisher: "Yardbird (P.O. Box 5434, Harrisburg, PA 17105)"