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SIGNS OF LIFE by Jean Ferris


by Jean Ferris

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: April 25th, 1995
ISBN: 0-374-36909-7
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

 Dreamed memories of an ancient life that may-have-been and a wistful, would-be romance thaw Hannah's grief over the death of her twin sister, Molly. In France to view the Lascaux cave paintings, Hannah, 17, can't find the appetite for lunch, let alone cultural expeditions with her parents. Molly's death six months ago has made it emotionally impossible for them to return to their usual summer grounds. Stefan, a young juggler with a travelling circus, reminds Hannah how to laugh; vivid dreams of the cave paintings' creation result in her more philosophical outlook on life's minor passages and major ones. To the credit of Ferris (Relative Strangers, 1993, etc.), the dream/reincarnation sequences are not as hokey as they sound in summary, and yet how improbable they are--the ancestors speak as freely of the paintings as self-conscious Soho artists. The mood of the book, a compression of overlapping incidents and motifs (so- called ``gypsy'' sayings, Hannah's mother emerging from grief- induced lethargy, the love story that is ultimately another good- bye), settles sorrow on readers like a cloak before releasing them, along with the characters, from the pain. A bittersweet evocation of the mourning process. (Fiction. 10-14)