METEORS IN AUGUST by Melanie Rae Thon


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Coming of age in northern Montana: a sometimes conventional but often lyrical debut. When Lizzie Macon is seven, her millworker father leads a lynching party that succeeds in chasing away (but not killing) Red Elk, the Indian who's lived with a white woman. Macon gets his comeuppance, however, when favored daughter Nina--Lizzie's flirtatious, beautiful older sister--runs off, pregnant by Red Elk's son. Lizzie longs for Nina; she believes falling stars represent lost children coming home; she watched ""showers of meteors in August, but none was Nina's star."" Along the way, Lizzie goes through the usual intense girlish friendship (along with pain when fickle Gwen dumps her), the distress of unpopularity, the learning about sex, the observation of colorful locals. Determined to be good enough to make up for Nina's sins, she secretly attends the services of a Pentecostal-style woman preacher. She also observes a surprising side to her father as Miriam Deets--whose husband owes gambling debts to Macon and is later crippled in the mill--succeeds in tapping his feelings of tenderness and guilt. At last, the prodigal daughter returns to visit (through the intervention of Red Elk), dissipated and hardened but still able to please Daddy in a way Lizzie never can. Lizzie determines to leave town someday and plan her life better than her mother or sister did; in the meantime, new appreciation of her family is in the works. Much to admire here, but a bit too familiar to be a standout.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1990
Publisher: Random House