When a girl runs away from home on the eve of her 15th birthday, her mother sits down to write her a letter.
Laura hopes to bridge the gap between herself and daughter Elizabeth by describing her own coming-of-age experiences in a small, rigidly stratified Louisiana town. It’s a clever conceit, but one that could support at most a short story. Debut author Bishop has hobbled himself not only with the formal constraints of an epistolary novel, but also with an unbelievable framing device: What parent is going to while away the hours penning her memoirs when her child is missing? In the form of a letter well over a hundred pages, written in a single night? Those willing to suspend disbelief are further tested with constructions like this: “Your grandparents were Baptists, as you know.” Surely there are less awkward ways to impart information to readers.
A gimmicky debut.