Mixed-up mom reconnects with mixed-up daughter in another confused family saga from second-novelist Samuel (No Place Like Home, 2001)
Luna McGraw lost custody of her daughter—and started having tequila for breakfast. But now she drinks—no, obsesses over—coffee in various frothy and steamed combinations. There are other invigorating influences in her life besides all that caffeine: the brilliant sun of Taos, for example, and its engagingly eccentric residents. Luna is an artist in a small way, painting whimsical designs onto old furniture just for fun, and she works at the grocery store to pay her rent. She gets by. Life is good. She even listens to the voices in her head that tell her what to do, dubbed Therapist Barbie and Best Friend Barbie. As Barbies go, they know just what to say when Luna is feeling a little down. Oh, one more thing: she’s dying for a Marlboro but she has to set a good example for teenager Joy, right? And just why is her pain-in-the-butt ex suddenly eager to send the girl to her mother? Joy doesn’t seem all that bad. Outward signs of rebellion are few: small tattoo on her back, minor body pierce here and there. She seems to make friends easily and so does Luna—Thomas Coyote, that hunky Indian woodcarver, looks like a real man, not too arty or pretentious. And nice. What more could a clean-and-sober middle-aged woman ask for? Luna is realistic and figures she can deal with the ex-wife he still talks to. Then a letter arrives and all cluster ’round: seems Luna’s good-for-nothing father died and left them some land. What to do? Drink some coffee and dither some more. Joy’s friend Maggie is cutting herself. What to do? Ask an inner Barbie. And so goes this desultory plot, interspersed with almanac quotes, the twelve steps of AA, and deep Dear Diary entries.
The point? Apparently none.