WHERE BLUE BEGINS by Janice Deaner


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 A dark legacy of family secrets is exposed anticlimactically- -in this first novel of uneven promise from young filmmaker Deaner. Elena, Maddie, and Harry have long been accustomed to their beautiful mother Lana's mysterious illnesses and depressions. Lana also walks with a limp, hates jazz, never refers to her own mother, Mimi, still living in New York, and cuts out sections of the New York Times and hides them with her journals. These mysteries puzzle the children, but nothing is explained until the family moves from Detroit to upstate New York, where musician father Leo is offered a job teaching composition. The move, while liberating for Leo, further devastates Lana, who's depressed by Leo's delight in his work and by the small-town ambiance. The stage thus set for the denouement, Maddie (ten) proceeds to narrate the unraveling of the secrets that have so darkened her mother's life--a time-consuming process that gets bogged down in the middle as Maddie meets local eccentrics, befriends abused Lizzy, and, with sister Elena, begins to read Lana's journals. The less-than-stunning explication of these teased-out mysteries--a tangled skein of white guilt, sexism, and generational discord--while precipitated by the first performance of Leo's jazz-rich musical, is not only foreshadowed but also partly suggested by the journal excerpts. Leo and Lana's love, though much tested by the revelations, will probably endure; grandmother and former Harlem bordello-owner Mimi undergoes a miraculous character change; and Maddie, whose ``whole life had been lived with a man and woman who had banished their passions and imposed a life of unendurable silence,'' can now relax. Childhood fears and tangled loyalties are effectively evoked, but the early promise is soon undercut by events that repeat, broadly hint, and then rush to a less-than-persuasive resolution. Still, a writer to watch.

Pub Date: March 11th, 1993
ISBN: 0-525-93580-0
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1992


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