DESIRE LINES by Christina Baker Kline


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A high-school reunion dredges up more than fond memories and embarrassing photos in Kline's (Sweet Water, 1993) sharp portrait of a mid-youth crisis. Kathryn Campbell, like most people in their 20s, doesn't go back to her parents' home without a good reason. In her case it's divorce from husband Paul, whom she left not from anger or hurt so much as sadness, an inexplicable depression that just grew worse over their years together: ""In the end it was easier to let go of the marriage than let go of the melancholy that grew slowly inside her like a tumor, obliterating everything else."" As it happens, however, she arrives back at her childhood home in Maine the very month that her high-school class is having its tenth reunion. Well, sometimes the fire is better than the frying pan, if it gets you moving. You see, the night before their graduation, Kathryn's best friend Jennifer left a party early--and has never been heard from since. Could this be the unresolved loss? Kathryn decides to put her newspaper reporter's instincts on the job, and she starts asking all her old classmates precisely those questions they thought they had answered ten years back. Things have changed, but not beyond recognition: heartthrob Will, the class president and Jennifer's old boyfriend, has come out of the closet; Rachel, the intellectual Jew, is now a college professor; and party-boy Jack is a journalist just like Kathryn. The two team up and start following whatever leads they can revive, some taking them in the direction of the creepy Mr. Hunter, Jennifer's old teacher. Can the past ever be put to rest? Or is that an unhealthy question in itself?. Kathryn means to find out. Uninspired but passably engaging: Kline spends way too much time setting up the board, but she knows how to play her pieces. Next time out, she should cut straight to the chase.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1999
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Morrow