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Timely as this book may be in exploring its subject--sexual abuse--first-novelist Hertzberg has created a world so bizarre, so disjointed, so peopled with the walking wounded, that the normal seems to be what is out of kilter. When her sister June kills two people, Tracy tries to account for June's seemingly senseless action. Though beautiful and talented, June has from childhood been violent and angry: she once burned their home down, hoping that her mother and father were inside at the time; she has dropped out of school; taken drags; run away from home; and become involved with other runaways and prostitutes. June is obviously a mess. But Tracy seems little better; and Mom and Dad, aging hippies who also drop in and out, plus Mom's parents and a cast of friends and acquaintances--who commit suicide, drown, molest children, and are confused about their sexual identity--don't seem too ordinary either. Tracy does go to college, and she keeps in touch with Dad's blue-blooded parents, who seem models of decency, though they too may well be hiding some dark secret. Moving back and forth between the past and the present, Tracy describes early childhood in the East, and the subsequent years out on the West Coast, where the explanation for her family's behavior is revealed. There is a solution of sorts, stoical but realistic: the past cannot be changed be denied, and life must go on. Powerful images and scenes follow each other relentlessly to form a claustrophobic world--where all is dissonant and disintegrating. It is a world that finally comes too close to melodrama, to Stephen King rather than to Dostoyevsky.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Simon & Schuster