Age Range: 12 & up
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 An intense evocation of a 12-year-old who's in a transition that threatens her sanity. Roz's single mother, Ellie--a breadmaker, nurturer, and companion to her only child, born after Ellie was raped by a stranger--died in a fall, apparently while rescuing a young hiker, Nate. Now with her uncle Mike, in Massachusetts, Roz is deeply withdrawn, reliving what might have happened, silently phoning Nate in New Jersey, haunted by unremembered dreams. Family counseling, mandated by Roz's school, is as useless as Mike predicts (he learned to stonewall therapy in a VA hospital); a scene where the two thwart a therapist is a splendid sample of Coman's ability to contrast surfaces with her characters' complex inner reality. In the end, Roz takes charge of her own trauma: catching a bus to New Jersey, she confronts a reluctant Nate (his dad fears a lawsuit) and finds that he knows little more about Ellie's death than she does (it's implied, but never stated, that it might have been suicide). When a frantic Mike catches up with her, the two begin to confide in each other (among other things, it's his dreams, of Vietnam, that have frequently awakened them both). Roz plans a unique, poignantly appropriate ceremony for burying her mother's ashes and finally relaxes her emotional ties enough to become her own person. A wonderfully spare and lyrical first novel, graced with a fresh voice, telling images, and subtly drawn characters who linger in the memory. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1993
ISBN: 0-374-37390-6
Page count: 156pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1993


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