THE DISTANCE BETWEEN by Eliza Osborne

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A modern young woman’s experiences on the road to Damascus—which, in her case, turns out to be I—80. Mattie Welsh, a 30-something wife and mother in Massachusetts, receives bad news in the form of a phone call from her sister, who announces that their parents have been in a serious car accident. Mattie is too stunned to work out travel plans, so she hops into her car and heads for Pennsylvania, leaving her husband and sons to follow later. When you—re driving alone, of course, you—re left with your thoughts, and naturally Matty’s are rather glum. She was never as close to her parents as she would have liked, you see, and this had much to do with her decision to leave home at a fairly early age. It was bad enough that her mother wanted to come up for a visit on the day that Matty was scheduled to deliver her first child: That’s just garden-variety maternal cluelessness. But when Matty decided to divorce her first husband and remarry—and to a Jew, no less—things became genuinely strained. —Mattie wished that she could say, —I love you in a way that you will never know about.— — But now it may be too late. As she makes her way home, every chance encounter seems to remind her of the maternal bond and its discontents. She picks up a pregnant hitchhiker who’s running away from home; she gets drunk with a barmaid and her daughters; in the backseat of her car she even finds a six-year-old girl who’s lost her mother. —Mattie had always carried the idea that other people’s lives were different from her own, substantially different in ways that would be difficult to imagine or to learn about.— In fact, as she—ll discover, they—re not. Heavily interior in its center of gravity, but Osborne’s first effort falls just short of sentimentality in a Lifetime-TV sort of way. Still, it’s intelligent and quite moving in its way.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 1-56947-180-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Soho
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1999