In her debut novel, Scofield offers readers an insider’s view of the unusual mind of Lily Asher.
Lily’s 13 and growing up in 1960s suburban Portland, Oregon, with her well-meaning, sometimes-dysfunctional family. That titular curtain—the confusingly thin veil between Lily’s hyperactive imagination and reality—is the book’s central experience. Like Lily, readers work hard to sort out fact from fantasy. As if some underwater world, the book teems—with dialogue, characters and dangerous events: Younger sister Lauren falls into a quarry on one family outing; Lily nearly drowns on the next and is “saved” by her diseased dog (who dies and haunts the rest of the story, along with Jesus, Lily’s imaginary companion). Lily’s nearly assaulted by a peeping Tom, witnesses her mother and a neighbor in bed, sees a beloved aunt have a breakdown. Through everything, Lily and Jesus carry on lively conversations even in unlikely places like swimming pools—" 'Neato, huh?' Jesus wiggles His eyebrows like Groucho Marx. 'Did you notice that I'm not wet?' "—and Lily imagines herself transforming into a dog or werewolf. Like Lily, readers may find themselves having trouble coping with the many events speeding at them; sharper editing and a clearer plotline might have saved them from drowning under the story’s weight.
An ambitious, self-conscious muddle. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)