Kane’s novel looks back on the life of a troubled young woman dealing with illicit love and a stale marriage within the confines of a conservative Catholic community.
Emily, a vibrant 25-year-old dancer from Brooklyn, is stimulated by her growing dance career but stifled by her crumbling marriage. She’s unwilling to sacrifice dance to have children, and her husband is unwilling to violate his religious beliefs by using birth control. The result? A sexless marriage full of unspoken resentment and hollow affection. Reeling from the death of her best friend, Emily becomes dangerously attracted to her friend’s teenage son, David—a precocious Jew trying to secure his own identity while attending a conservative Catholic school—to whom Emily is guardian. He’s a rebellious but good kid obsessed with challenging the status quo and making audacious statements to shock his sexually conservative mentors. Emily latches onto young David as a way to feel alive; they have sex several times, which results in her becoming pregnant. At that point, the story takes a tantalizing turn: It runs with Emily’s increasing obsession with David, her bizarre belief that she can keep her marriage the way it was even after she tells her husband she’s pregnant with a teenager’s child, all told layered with repressive Catholic overtones. Emily’s story is told by David 20 years after it happened, as he pieces together her life based on her journals and his own memories of the time. Initially riveting, the story turns into a voyeuristic look into twisted lives, including a pompous Bible-thumping doctor caught on tape having sex with teenagers, Emily’s obsessive ex-boyfriend, his barren wife and a delightfully capricious nun. Kane weaves an intriguing web between the flawed, complex characters, yet the story eventually grows repetitive and onerous as Kane continues to rehash the same issues, scenes, conversations and internal monologues. Things don’t change until the last chapter, although the novel barely addresses the impact of what has happened.
An intriguing but underdeveloped story of loss, ethics and forbidden love.