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 Not only a first novel, but a first by a now-18-year-old writer--yet, surprisingly, this tale of a young woman's grief over the death of her artist husband tugs at the heartstrings with the best of them. Gloria Burgess was an unhappy child, with a mother frustrated at having to sacrifice a music career to raise her and a father who liked to pretend that Gloria was the reincarnation of a childhood sweetheart he'd loved and lost. Happiness came easily as an adult, though, when Gloria met and fell in love with London-based artist Bill Burgess, married him and had a child. She is 30 before tragedy strikes, taking her happiness away for good, it seems. Bill is diagnosed with leukemia, and Gloria must stand by helplessly as the best man she has ever known sickens and dies. Left alone after the funeral, she somehow manages to parent her eight-year-old son, carry on at her teaching job, and find a reason to live. Help comes in the form of her mother, who's anxious to atone for her mistakes, and, more interestingly, from Jascha Kremsky, an artist acquaintance of Bill's who wants Gloria's permission to stage a retrospective of Bill's work. As Gloria and Jascha work together on the show, he's able to share with her his own experience of grieving. His support and friendship see Gloria through the darkest hours until she feels ready to take up her life again. Crowell wrote this novel while finishing her senior year of high school. Its derivative tone, a minor defect from an author so young, subtracts very little from its fully-developed characters and maturity of content. A highly promising debut. (First printing of 150,000; film rights to Sony; Book-of-the-Month Club selection; $150,000 ad/promo)

Pub Date: March 10th, 1997
ISBN: 0-399-14252-5
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1996


FictionETCHED ON ME by Jenn Crowell
by Jenn Crowell
FictionLETTING THE BODY LEAD by Jenn Crowell
by Jenn Crowell