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 An appealing story about love between a recovering anorexic and a deaf would-be pastor barely survives veteran novelist Betts's (Souls Raised From the Dead, 1994, etc.) awkward flirtation with significance as she introduces a ghost and the battle at Waco. Luna Stone and Steve Grier leave North Carolina in April 1993 for California, where Steve has been offered a teaching job. The two plan to marry along the way. But as the journey begins, Luna, an artist who had been hospitalized in college for depression and anorexia, begins to have second thoughts. She has been supporting the two of them by doing medical illustrations while Steve finishes his dissertation, but she's beginning to realize that Steve is stingy and selfish. She's also obsessed with the FBI's attack on Koresh's compound and the consequent conflagration. And so Luna leaves Steve in Reno, takes her van, and heads to the nearby mountains to camp and think. An Army brat whose life has been regimented by a domineering father, she's also a lapsed Catholic who can't quite forget her religion. During the day she hikes trails and thinks about her life; at night she's visited both by a ghost and by a starving young boy. The ghost is Tamsen Donner, a member of the infamous Donner Party, whose survivors made it through the winter by eating the dead. The young boy, whom Luna befriends, is Sam, who'd been sold to--and has escaped from--a child-porn ring. When Sam and Luna move on to another camp, they meet Paul, whose plans to be a Lutheran minister have been disrupted by an accident that has left him deaf. A day-trip to Reno goes terribly wrong when Sam is kidnapped, but Luna and Paul eventually rescue him. Their love acknowledged, they are free to move forward, with Sam in tow. A pair of twentysomething lovers refreshingly reach out beyond themselves to act like grown-ups in a novel that succeeds in spite of itself.

Pub Date: May 9th, 1997
ISBN: 0-679-45072-6
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1997