FAMILY STORY by Alison Scott Skelton


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 Skelton's second novel (after Different Families, 1980) briskly charts those unsuspected undercurrents that nearly sink a close-knit family still reeling from a decade-old tragedy. When Annie Levine recognizes her long-lost brother, Eric, panhandling on a New York City subway car, she sets out to find him--with the result, among other things, that once again the scattered Carlson and Levine siblings are brought together. As childhood neighbors on Long Island, Annie, Joanna, and Eric Carlson, together with Martin, Sara, and Seth Levine, had sworn an oath to be ``Brothers forever...Till death do us part.'' The closeness continues through the years as Martin, a pediatrician, marries Annie, an editor, and the families spend summers together at their jointly owned Adirondacks camp. One summer, though, Eric's ten-year-old daughter, Molly, disappears from the camp while Eric is looking after her. The families fear that the child's been kidnapped and murdered, but over time they begin--with the exception of Eric--to adjust to the tragedy. The once-levelheaded Eric becomes obsessed with finding Molly and crisscrosses the country for the next decade to follow up slim leads. Now, in present time, he's 49, unemployed, and in New York, convinced that he'll find Molly. The families react to the news of Annie's subway sighting by converging on her apartment, then on the Levines' old Long Island home, and finally on the camp. Free-spirited Joanna, single mother of Tessa--who uncannily resembles Molly--takes the train from Colorado; successful writer Seth flies in from Italy; and Sara takes time off from her Long Island ballet school. Finally, Eric is found, old secrets are revealed, old loves revived, and old ties of affection renewed. Nicely plotted, resolved, and described: an agreeable summer read, though the tragedy never seems more than a neat hook for a warm, contemporary family story.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-11994-1
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995