GETTING OUT by Gwendolen Gross

GETTING OUT

KIRKUS REVIEW

Even committed couch potatoes should enjoy the graceful blending of outdoor adventuring and wry immersion in family dynamics that distinguishes this engaging second novel by Gross (Field Guide , 2001).

We’re won over immediately by the catchy, knowing voice of its narrator, Hannah Blue, the twentysomething middle child of a Newton, Massachusetts, family whose members are at odds with one another. Her father, a distracted and somewhat disheveled ceramicist, seems essentially unfazed when he’s diagnosed with terminal lupus. Her mother (from whom he’s divorced), a prominent surgeon, briskly insists everything’s under control. Hannah’s siblings Ted and Marla are involved, respectively, in an unsuitable engagement and a troubled marriage. And Hannah’s practically perfect boyfriend Ben begins to lose some of his considerable appeal when she impulsively starts spending time away from him as a member of an “Adventurers’ Club” devoted to exploring caves, climbing mountains, and testing their communal mettle. Once the aforementioned situations are set up, Getting Out has a pretty arbitrary plot, and few surprises. But it does have Gross’s keenly accurate comprehension of her likable heroine’s reluctance to choose between sexy mountain men and irreversibly urbanized, gentle Ben; escaping-from versus clinging-to her endearingly screwed-up, essentially goodhearted kinfolk. In keeping with its rotating emphases on hardy self-denial and languorous surrender to creature comforts, this is all notably sensual, alert to subtle smells, tastes, and physical sensations. And who can resist a heroine who says things like “I can’t remember my own birth, but I’m sure it was something like caving,” and comes to her senses when, following a climactic solo wilderness trek, she realizes that “I needed practice at attachment.”

If the fabricated gender-nonspecific machismo of TV’s Survivor bores the hell out of you, try this out. It’s a charmer.

Pub Date: June 11th, 2002
ISBN: 0-8050-6834-1
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2002




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