SUMMER OF RESCUE by Barbara Nelson


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 The characters in this subtle, beautifully crafted first novel are both believable and likable. Nelson has peopled a small Arizona town with complex, well-meaning souls who illustrate the drama of daily life. Clare has agreed to act as musical director for a show celebrating the centennial of Mirage--her aptly named hometown. This stirs up the quiet existence of the 40-year-old wife of Paul and mother of 15-year-old Jeanine, although the summer promises to be an emotional one anyway. Jeanine has her first serious boyfriend, and Clare and Paul watch uncertainly as she lurches toward womanhood. The end of the summer will bring Clare's parents' anniversary party at the same lake cabin where Clare and Paul's son Michael drowned when he was 5. In addition, Nate--the 30-year-old choreographer of the centennial show who has just broken up with his longtime girlfriend--has confided in Clare that he would like to be her lover. When the show's director has a heart attack, Clare and Nate take over together. Their relationship grows closer and more precarious, and several illicit kisses are exchanged. Particularly crystalline are the passages where Clare watches Jeanine maturing and at the same time reminisces about her own early sexual experiences and curiosities, and expresses surprise over her daughter's vast knowledge of intimate matters. When Clare visits the library, hoping to find a book that will help her discuss sex with Jeanine, she recalls that she tried the same thing when her daughter was 10. ``The text was intended to connect with young adolescents, but instead slid down that merciless precipice that leads to the final resting place of the uncool cool.'' Nelson consistently captures the right amount of fear, resignation, and sometimes a tinge of jealousy, in Clare's thoughts. Fine, understated domestic fiction in the best sense. (First serial to Redbook)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1994
ISBN: 1-878448-58-7
Page count: 307pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1994