ROBIN'S BLUE by Pam Alster


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With help from recreational drugs, a dissolute young woman parties her way through the 1980s.

When she first does lines with her 36-year-old married boss, 16-year-old Robin Daniels is working as a lifeguard in Myrtle Beach. Thus begins an eight-year cocktail of sex, vodka, quaaludes and cocaine. Strikingly beautiful, with a figure to die for, Robin trades on her looks for cash and lovers, both male and female, to fill the void created by her self-absorbed father and deceased mother. She’s desperate for quality time with daddy in Philly, but he’s focused on new wife Cheryl. When Robin runs away from home, her father makes no attempt to find her. After being picked up by the police for underage drinking, she meets Jeff, a divorced friend of a friend. They live together and eventually wed, but she’s turned on by Jeff’s brother Ray. After her marriage to Jeff dissolves, she enjoys multiple trysts, earning money waitressing and selling herself while under the influence. Through the years, she snorts coke and the cash racks up; she uses and is used by numerous moneyed individuals in exotic locales—New York, London, Panama City, etc. The goal is to marry rich and retire. There’s no shortage of action, as Robin copulates and self-medicates through the best years of her life, rarely thinking about where and how it will end. As a character, she’s less than sympathetic, pegging many a man as greedy and lecherous while categorizing herself as “sexually progressive.” But life isn’t all studs and roses for this hot babe. She’s keenly aware of her appearance and the jealousy simmering in other women; but that doesn’t stop her from putting the moves on another woman’s man. Although she turns a blind eye to self-responsibility, she’s judgmental about others, e.g., about a Vietnam veteran: “I thought of Jeff’s friend who’d come back from Vietnam paralyzed, he drank a case of beer a day and sharpened his hunting knives—the war his excuse for being an asshole.” Sex, drugs and booze aren’t the only excesses here: The book runs to 71 chapters, most of which center on yet another assignation to show just how low Robin can go. The writing works best when it’s straightforward; attempts at highbrow literary phrasings fall flat, often leaving the reader to intuit the meaning of an awkward, headache-inducing sentence. Still, the colorful characters in Robin’s orbit help bolster the coked-up story, and the final part proves to be the best.

Realistically captures the rough road to rock bottom.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2012
Page count: 361pp
Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher
Program: Kirkus Indie
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