A closely observed, rather somber portrait of an adolescent girl struggling to come of age in Greece in the 1950s. Anna...



A closely observed, rather somber portrait of an adolescent girl struggling to come of age in Greece in the 1950s. Anna Karystinou (first seen in the author's God's Snake, 1986) has more than the usual hurdles to cross in facing adolescence. Her father, a tough, self-contained army officer, has dragged his family with him as he's shuttled from assignment to assignment; Anna has rarely spent more than a year in any town, and is perpetually in the process of trying to make friends in one more self-contained locality suspicious of outsiders. Anna, 13 when the story begins, faces an adolescence even more turbulent than that of her peers because her father, who has a barely suppressed, almost obsessive love for his children, has tried to raise her as if she were a boy, and is deeply distressed as Anna begins to mature into a young woman. Spanidou catches the complexity and fervor of adolescent emotions with an utterly convincing precision. Her portrait of Anna's painful, rather passionate friendship with the daughter of a well-to-do physician, in which deep affection alternates with suspicion, anger, and regret, is exact and memorable, as is Anna's long struggle to somehow establish a sense of herself as separate from her overwhelming father. And the depiction of Anna's family, and of a marriage in which passion has been replaced by icy hostility, seems equally unsettling and convincing. Hovering on the edge of Anna's consciousness is the town's growing obsession with ""the Dragon,"" a serial killer who's been stalking and killing young women. Along with Anna's specific fears--about how to establish her independence from her distant mother and her driven father, and about the meaning of her increasingly sensual response to the world--there is the more generalized fear of a seemingly invisible killer. With great dexterity, Spanidou draws these elements together in a climactic encounter between Anna and the Dragon that leaves her startlingly but believably liberated and strong. A meticulously detailed, carefully paced, and painfully honest portrait.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999


Page Count: 192

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1998

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