EVEN NOW by Michelle Latiolais


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A first novel about an adolescent caught between a willful mother and a father who wants to know his daughter six years after a divorce--an often evocative family chronicle centered in the consciousness of the troubled daughter, but one that finally depends too much on point-of-view and not enough on incident. Lisa Sandham, 16, has lived in Sonoma, California, for five years with her mother Elisabeth, who is both very beautiful and very demanding. Lisa sees herself as an outcast: ""not one of the birds who flew with the rest, their individual wings lofting and sinking in concert with many other sets of wings."" First, she lives through a custody battle in which the judge forces her to decide whom to stay with (very tentatively, she chooses her mother). Around her, people chatter endlessly, while she goes her introverted way, suffering small injuries and resenting her predicament: ""Why do you both blame everything on me?"" When she visits her father and Mary, his lover, he asks her to stay with him, and on this slender thread the rest of the plot unwinds. Elisabeth, who is once again involved with David (an architect back from Saudi Arabia), is insecure and jealous: ""You don't hate me for taking you away from your father?"" With the help of both Mary and David, however, Lisa begins to understand the limits of her inner world and of the imagination. There is a showdown during a birthday party after her mother plays the cello, and the book ends suggestively: Lisa will spend her senior year with her father, but will be haunted by ""her mother eating dinner alone at the table. . .She had to get used to this thought, this image. . .yesterday she had vowed to preserve her mother's happiness, and today she had destroyed it."" A coming-of-age narrative, then, which is delicate, promising, and lyrically evocative, but which is also stretched too thin and might have worked better as a novella.

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