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LEAVING BROOKLYN by Lynne Sharon Schwartz


By Lynne Sharon Schwartz

Pub Date: April 25th, 1989
ISBN: 395-51091-0
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Audrey, 15, is a Brooklyn girl with dreams of being an actress. Her stolidly bourgeois Jewish family, mother and father, hold her back with every complacent fiber of their being. Brooklyn itself seems to her a hindrance, a parochial backwater of shared (and, more, scared) attitudes that preclude risk, sex, failure, and thus success. Born with a "wandering eye," one with less than perfectly developed musculature, Audrey feels herself by nature a bit aslant; when her parents begin sending her to a Park Avenue eye specialist, this seems to Audrey just one more obligatory dampening of her spark. But when the doctor puts his hand a little fondly on Audrey's knee, and when Audrey lets the hand wander farther--this is the point when Audrey's liberation begins, in the unlikely guise of a completely physical relationship with the doctor. Finally there is an authority figure that Audrey learns how to manipulate, here through the surprising strengths and hungers of her body. Audrey's unprovided-for lust--though not her hunger--gives the book its strongest flavor--how nearly cold, how tremendously free she becomes--but it also unfortunately throws into relief all the other things Schwartz (Rough Strife; Disturbances in the Field) has neglected to do in this brief novel: such as providing the doctor with more characterly substance, such as making Brooklyn a more nuanced hell, such as allowing the book to admit one feeling other than Audrey's determined revenge. A surprisingly tinny book, then, from a writer whose emotional generosities have impressed much more in the past.