ASH WEDNESDAY by Ethan Hawke


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Actor-director Hawke abandons the New York hipsters of his debut (The Hottest State, 1996) for a misfit and his girlfriend who try hard to get a grip on adulthood.

Bruised and battered, Jimmy Heartsock and his sweetheart Christy have had enough curves thrown at them to strike out a major-league club. Jimmy, whose handsome athletic father went mad and eventually threw himself from a hospital window and whose mother never connected with her oldest son, misspent his high school career, then enlisted in the army and managed to screw that up too. Christy’s mother walked out, leaving the baby girl to grow up in the care of her good-natured Texas politician and serial polygamist father. Jimmy’s had a string of girlfriends, a couple of whom have had to abort his children, and Christy’s been married once to a total jerk. The two found each other in Albany, where Jimmy was stationed and where, as the story opens, he’s just broken off with her and messed up what is left of his enlistment by carrying out, stoned to the gills, an assignment to notify a family of their soldier son’s death. The crushed and, unknown to Jimmy, pregnant Christy has taken the bus back to Texas via New York City, but the repentant and AWOL Jimmy catches her at Kingston and sticks an engagement ring under her nose, begging her to marry him. She comes around with understandable reluctance. Neither one of the two has seen a working marriage close up, and Jimmy, close as he is to 30, has considerable growing up to do. Rattling across the country in his souped-up Nova, they make their way to Cincinnati, where they’ve decided to have a church wedding if they can. The terrible parents turn up, Jimmy’s boyhood priest comes through, and the married couple head off for disaster and redemption on their Mardi Gras honeymoon.

Gritty, funny in spots, and largely credible.

Pub Date: July 23rd, 2002
ISBN: 0-375-41326-X
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2002


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