A LOT TO MAKE UP FOR by John Buell


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Canadian author Buell (Playground, 1976; The Shrewsdale Exit, 1972)--skilled at understated, serious suspense--succeeds only moderately with this story of two young people coming back into society after overcoming destructive addiction. Del Symons--now off drugs and away from her violent ex-lover Stan--has settled in a small Canadian town, where she cleans houses for a living and cares for her baby, who was born addicted. Immersed in domestic routine, friends with no one but her kind landlady, Del is just beginning to find peace when a sinister employer makes sexual overtures, causes her to lose other work, and begins to tail her in his car. At the same time, Stan arrives in town trying to track down Del; he moves in with a part-time farmer who's suffered a heart attack. The suspense soon dissipates and seems merely contrived, however, as the employer problem is quickly resolved and as Stan turns out to be clean and sober, seeking Del only to apologize and try to make amends. Still, there's an important message here: both Stan and Del--though college graduates--are willing to start over from the bottom; they avail themselves of organized support--A.A. for Stan; a treatment center for Del--although the key to recovery seems to be responsible interaction with good-hearted individuals. Altogether, then, a generally inspiring short novel--one focused on the aftermath of addiction and the slow process of reentering society, rather than on sensational details of degradation.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1990
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux