SAINT VITUS' DANCE by Jill Rubalcaba


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This short novel tracks the emotions of a teenager witnessing her mother's decline into terminal illness. Melanie, 13, is painfully aware that something is wrong with her mother and silently begs her preoccupied father to notice; readers will wonder just why he does not, when the lady is the topic of lively gossip in their small town. When the illness progresses to the point that her father takes her mother to a hospital, Melanie is told that her mother has been taken to her grandmother's house, although no calls or letters follow. Such flaws in logic serve to intensify the author's manipulation of a conspiracy of silence and unnatural behavior in the face of illness. Rubalcaba puts her character through the paces of anger and guilt, and in other ways creates a textbook case of the effect of the illness on the whole family. Melanie rarely seems real; instead of missing her mother's presence, she views the loss through photographs and memories of how happy her parents were together. An earnest effort, the book soon deteriorates into bibliotherapy. An author's note comments on the disease.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1996
Page count: 102pp
Publisher: Clarion