INTO THIN AIR by Caroline Leavitt


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 More psychopathology as fiction by the author of Family (1987), Jealousies (1983), etc., this time about a troubled teen named Lee and the people she damages. True, Lee's damaged herself to begin with when her beloved mother, a gym teacher in Philadelphia, dies of cancer. Much too soon afterward, her father brings home an abrasive new wife, and Lee turns bad, staying out late, boozing, acting like a slut, and eventually running away altogether with nice-guy Jim Archer, a pharmacology student in Baltimore. By 19, Lee's pregnant, lonely, smothering beneath Jim's love, and trapped ``in a web of false forevers that made her panic to escape.'' So the day after she delivers a little girl--whom Jim will name Joanna--Lee absconds (sans baby), getting to know the shoulders of roads and cheap motel rooms in Richmond, Atlanta, Lubbock, and finally Madison, Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Jim's in shock and remains so for over a year (``How could someone just disappear? Presto change-o''). But by the time seven years pass, he falls in love again--with a redheaded nurse--and gets Lee proclaimed legally dead so that he can marry Lila. Meanwhile, hunkered down in Madison, a very undead Lee lands a job at a restaurant, forming difficult relationships with its owner, Valerie, her brother Andy, and Valerie's impossible adopted daughter, Karen. The little girl gets Lee thinking about the baby (and husband) she left behind. So, before the close, Lee heads back east to reveal herself to Jim, Lila, and Joanna, creating havoc from which--the author tries to suggest--healing will come. As protagonist, Lee's a tough sell, and even though Leavitt does everything she can to explain why the girl does the rotten things she does, she doesn't capture her voice--which keeps the justifications purely clinical. Some attractive prose, then, but beyond that the effect is anesthetizing.

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 1993
ISBN: 0-446-51704-6
Page count: 320pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1992


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