Avery and Claudia Parks--and their eleven-year-old daughter Jane--live in no harmony whatsoever in the comfortable academic suburb of Lunsbury, Missouri. Sweethearts since childhood, Avery and Claudia are almost maniacally absorbed with one another, in good times and bad: Avery's drinking and infidelities; Claudia's unfocused intelligence, her out-of-place-ness. And where this leaves poor, smart daughter Jane is basically nowhere--or in escape: she comes to rely on stolen Percodan pills. Dew (Dale Loves Sophie to Death) appears to be attempting a contemporary version of James' What Maisie Knew here--and sometimes a bitterly oblique comedy does enter impressively: e.g., a scene wherein Claudia and her best friend Maggie share confidences over lunch at a fern/quiche restaurant. . . when one of the potted plants overhead falls and nearly kills them. But mostly, until the last pages, Dew seems to be idly filling space. Scenes of Thanksgiving and Christmas and music recitals are stock receptacles for a pulseless sort of abstract, noodling prose. (""She spent her energies battling a peculiar hollowness that often rendered before her a setting devoid of depth""; ""She was in a state of such optimism and excitement that the communal calling back and forth. . . seemed to her an almost unbearably poignant reminder of the possibilities of civlization and goodness."") Throughout, effortful evocations of vague, in-between states of feeling make the novel stagnant, precious. Finally, in fact, the great strength of Dew's first novel--the magnification of small realms of sensibility--becomes a major liability this time, lacking the underlying urgency and passion of Dale Loves Sophie to Death. Torpid, meandering fiction from a talented writer, then--aimless until its powerful last few pages.