LIFELINES by Caroline Leavitt

LIFELINES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fulfilling the promise of her first novel, Meeting Rozzy Halfway (1981), Leavitt again penetrates the ozone layer of a fractured personality's asocial reality--in a story of a mother and daughter confronting both ""ordinary"" and special worlds. Duse is a psychic; she grew up in Chicago, unwittingly raised to isolation (her photographer father never took her picture); she ""never knew what would claim her, what wouldn't let her alone."" So, drifting into her strange vocation (via a laconic fortuneteller's lessons in palm reading), Duse meets her ""destiny"" in white-scarfed Martin Michaels, a Wisconsin dentist with an impressive ""passion line."" Duse becomes pregnant, Martin instantly proposes--but their daughter isn't named at birth, isn't named for a month. . . not until Duse sees a photo of a certain dancer wrapped (like Martin) in a scarf. The child, then, is called Isadora. And she will have a wonderful Oz childhood of rainbow possibilities, with Duse ""riding the air around her"" as she reads palms hungrily. . . including Isadora's. Duse sees, in fact, a miraculous star in Isadora's palm--sure sign of a great ""gift""; and Isadora, eased through teenager social-life by father Martin (who's partial to hypnotism), grows up cossetted, dotingly mirrored (there's a gallery of her photographs), granted a blessed identity. But eventually, of course, Isadora rebels, becoming uneasy when her mother collects followers and even acquires psychic TV-notoriety in a missing-child case. Why couldn't her mother be ""ordinary""? And is Duse's gift a real one? At college, then, Isadora clings to divorced lover Daniel, yearning for a new identity: ""She wanted to be with him all the time. That was who she was."" But a destiny-like trio of deaths will leave Isadora alone, agonizing toward rebirth, seeing life as flat. . . yet remembering ""how lovely it had been to believe"" in Duse's palmistry, in a ""kid's strange paradise."" With fresh and teasing inquiries into the nature of identity--a brightly appealing, adventurous, and curiously touching exploration.

Pub Date: May 17th, 1982
Publisher: Seaview--dist. by Harper & Row