Picoult's mediocre third novel (after Harvesting the Heart, 1993) features dysfunctional parents, an abusive spouse,...

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Picoult's mediocre third novel (after Harvesting the Heart, 1993) features dysfunctional parents, an abusive spouse, romantic anthropological visits to Africa, and a healing encounter with sensitive Native Americans. Like the layers of earth she sifts through to find a piece of bone, protagonist Cassie Barrett, a noted anthropologist teaching at UCLA, must dig deep into her own past to understand just what happened before she lost her memory due to a blow on the head. Found wandering on Sunset Boulevard by Will Flying Horse, a recent LAPD recruit and South Dakota native who has fled life on the reservation, Cassie soon recalls her profession but has to be reminded by Alex Rivers, Hollywood's hottest property, that she's his wife. Alex, an Oscar nominee and soon-to-be winner, is stunningly handsome, talented, and messed-up -- something Cassie has also forgotten. Cassie loves Alex passionately, she is sure of that, but both of them are haunted by horrible childhoods, which have made Cassie a lifelong rescuer and Alex a perpetual victim. When Cassie finally remembers why she lost her memory (Alex beat her savagely), she flees to South Dakota, where she imposes on Will's grandparents while she finds herself and awaits the baby she now remembers she is expecting. There, Cassie recalls her alcoholic parents, a murdered childhood friend, her romantic meeting with Alex on location in Africa, their exciting life together, and her continuing great love for her husband. She goes back to him after the baby is born, but Alex can't change, and Cassie can: She must hurt him so he can heal. A pretentious romance for the '90s that combines up-to-the-minute neuroses and Tinseltown glitz in a formula plot that ought to be foolproof but somehow isn't, despite patches of good writing.

Pub Date: March 23, 1995

ISBN: 0425185508

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1995