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An efficient, high-gloss account of how a woman's childhood and youth are both heightened and drained by her loving, obsessive involvement with her sister, a victim of increasingly severe psychotic episodes. Bess adores older sister Rozzy, even in the days before Rozzy's ""trouble"" is diagnosed: Rozzy is ""miraculous"" to father Ben, a rigid perfectionist, a delight to mother Bea (who has buried her passion for another man); she creates the ""Museum of Self"" to exhibit bewildering bits of the body (nail parings, baby teeth, scabs); she plays wild, hilarious practical jokes. But then, when Rozzy is in fifth grade, the episodes start, or at least begin to be noticed: her body ""threatened to get up and walk away from her unless she watched it every minute."" And when the psychosis is diagnosed, Ben withdraws his love and attention, Bea is helpless. . . and the girls cling together. They will be separated when Rozzy spends high school years in a special school, and Bess, absorbed in her own search for self (through a love affair with an exciting drug freak), will ""betray"" Rozzy by wishing away the pain of her presence. Yet, in the college years, the needs, desperations, and love of both will sour and desiccate all other life and loves when they're apart: Bess ends her relationship with kind, undemanding David because ""I couldn't stand another person crowding Rozzy and me""; Rozzy--bright, acutely intuitive--sporadically attends classes, sleeps around, marries saintly Stewey, is briefly reinstated by father Ben when she's pregnant (Ben's a bit flaky about pregnant women), loses the baby, then finally throws herself under a Boston subway train. And an epilogue tells of Bess' own dying fall: she ""needed Rozzy's needs in order to exist."" Competent within the narrow focus of the sisters' relationship, superficial everywhere else (the other characters are merely expeditious silhouettes)--a persuasive enough case history packaged as a good, strong, mournful matinee performance.

Pub Date: Jan. 30th, 1980
Publisher: Seaview--dist. by Harper & Row