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A schematic tale about the friendship between two women that, weighted by much pop psychoanalyzing, just barely keeps afloat. The small-town Ohio story coauthored by poet Hugo and novelist Villegas (All We Know of Heaven, 1997) opens as psychoanalyst Laurel’s lover Jake asks her to come to the Bahamas with him. Ever since she witnessed her brother Tim’s drowning in a freak flood, Laurel, who was six at the time, has felt she could have saved him if only she’d been able to scream. As a result, she’s terrified of water and can’t swim. But she loves Jake--so over to the local Y she goes, there meeting Marna, a former champion swimmer and current Y instructor. Marna, married to J.W., was raised in a trailer park by Roxie, a tough, chain-smoking single parent; Marna never knew her own father. A sadistic boyfriend of her mother’s once threw Marna in deep water, and he still haunts her dreams. Marna’s relationship with Roxie isn—t close at all, and she doesn’t think she can bear the children J.W. wants (secretly she’s been taking the Pill). And so, these two women have plenty of confidences to share as Laurel confronts her fears and slowly learns to swim. Laurel tells Marna all about Jake and Tim, and Marna confesses her reluctance to confront her fears or J. W., who has been behaving rather strangely. When the two discover how much they have in common, their friendship actually almost ends. But when Laurel breaks up with Jake and Marna divorces the cheating J.W. the two women take the plunge and plan a trip to the Bahamas, where Laurel can show off her swimming skills and Marna her new self-esteem. More at home in the shallow than the deep end, though nicely detailed. (Literary Guild Featured Alternative)

Pub Date: July 8th, 1998
ISBN: 0-688-15977-X
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1998


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FictionALL WE KNOW OF HEAVEN by Anna Tuttle Villegas
by Anna Tuttle Villegas