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by Anne Lamott

Pub Date: April 10th, 1997
ISBN: 0-679-43521-2
Publisher: Pantheon

 After a very successful nonfiction run (Bird by Bird, 1994, etc), Lamott returns with her fifth novel seemingly refreshed and invigorated with a further exploration of the world of Rosie Ferguson, the awkward adolescent tennis champion first seen in Rosie (1983). Safely nestled in suburbia, surrounded by loving adults, and bolstered by her success as half of the top-ranked tennis team in the northern California girls 14-and-under doubles, Rosie lives a life sufficiently all-American to include a haunting sense of impending disaster. This sense of foreboding, shared by just about everyone Rosie knows, is personified in the form of Luther, a shabby, middle-aged loner who hangs around the area's tennis courts watching the young girls compete. Rosie's mother, Elizabeth, a recovered alcoholic, must fight the temptation to pin all her free- floating anxieties on creepy Luther, who's really just a distraction from her own troubling directionlessness and depression. Elizabeth's tendency to spend the day in her darkened bedroom is hurting her marriage and scaring Rosie, who alternately longs to nurse her mother back to health and to strangle her for being so weak. And Rosie has enough worries without this: Her best friend and tennis partner, Simone, has been experimenting with sex while skinny Rosie can hardly justify wearing a training bra; a beloved family friend is dying; and Rosie finds herself curiously drawn to Luther. Despite the adults' best efforts to help Rosie cope with her anxieties, maturity alone can teach her to let others make their own mistakes and to accept the tragedies of life along with the miracles. As usual, Lamott's brand of winsome wisdom begins to grate just a bit (all of her characters are on intimate terms with Recovery jargon, and even Luther, whom Rosie finally meets, offers predictably mellow observations). But the greater depth, complexity, and seriousness here make up for the smiley faces and rainbows. (Author tour)