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GREEN by Frances Sherwood


by Frances Sherwood

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-374-16673-0
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Disappointing second run from Sherwood (the highly touted Vindication, 1993), whose unmemorable protagonistafter scarcely credible encounters with trendy icons and rebels of the 1950sfinally discovers who she really is. As the daughter of a Mormon from Utah, Zoe Mclaren, growing up in 1950s Monterey, Calif., finds the conventional life her father tries to maintain stifling. So apparently does her closet-alcoholic Armenian mother. But Zoe is much more interested in herself. She befriends Margo, the black adopted daughter of leftist intellectuals, and the two girls discuss Camus, look for Beat poets in San Francisco, and dream of college. At the same time, Zoe, though allegedly bright, prefers to act dumb: She seduces Margo's father, and, when he commits suicide after a lovers' quarrel, marries partNative American Grey Cloud right after high school. Grey takes her away to the land he's been given on the Big Sur, where he plans to build a house and observe traditional customs. At first, Zoe is sure she's done the right thing; after all, she was ``loved by a man...our life together was going to have meaning, be a grand adventure.'' But life in the wilds is harder than she'd ever imagined, especially when she becomes pregnant and Greyoverfond of peyotebeats her so badly that she almost miscarries. Zoe escapes to an aunt in Monterey, where her daughter is born; then to San Francisco, where she's arrested for shoplifting. Later, there's a sojourn in Salt Lake City with eccentric but loving Mormon great-aunts; then it's back to the West Coast. Meanwhile, Grey is pursuing her. A horrific confrontation is followed by an unsuccessful suicide attempt, but finally Zoe realizes she must ``hang on.'' As her mother tells her: ``You will never forget, but you can forgive. Forgive yourself.'' Despite the rich mix of culture, history, politics, and relentlessly offbeat characters: not much more than standard insights into family and finding oneself.