SYNONYM FOR LOVE by Alison Moore

SYNONYM FOR LOVE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A complex and unsentimental portrait of a young woman confronting the searingly painful memories that constitute her identity--in a first novel from storywriter Moore (Small Spaces Between Emergencies, 1992). Narrator-photographer Matty Grover is spending the summer in the Arizona desert with only a neighbor--fiercely free-spirited, antisocial sculptor Della Wolff--for occasional company. In the solitude, memories resurface. Matty recalls her mother's death from cancer when she was in eighth grade. And how when her mother died, her father cracked. He summoned Jack, a grown son from an earlier marriage (of which Matty was unaware), then sneaked out of the house and away from their small Virginia town. Jack stuck around for a while; Matty, in the quiet but desperate throes of mourning, developed a crush on him. But he had business obligations in Arizona, so Matty was shunted off to board with an aging church organist. Later, a relationship with Ben, an epileptic and piano virtuoso, offered attachment but not consolation. So she bought a bus ticket and went, uninvited, to Arizona to move in with Jack, who was laconically kind but preoccupied with his own love affair. After even more troubling discoveries about her father, Matty shoved off, on her own, for California. Poignant moments abound here: of watching from a window while her family's possessions are sold at a yard sale, of arriving at her father's deathbed 20 minutes too late, of running away from home while her mother was in the hospital, of being raped. Yet this is by no means an all-gloomy ride. Matty always has an eye for beauty amid horror and an ability (compulsion?) to keep moving. Her deeply felt summer-long requiem paves the way for artistic--and possibly even psychic--freedom. A first-novelist's surefooted and affecting examination of abandonment's scars.

Pub Date: June 5th, 1995
ISBN: 1-56279-074-9
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1995




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