BODY SHARERS by Rose Elisabeth


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 A promising but narrow first novel evokes the disturbed atmosphere of a household in which a 14-year-old girl--a survivor of repeated sexual abuse--lives with a relative who's given to obsessive thoughts of sexual violence. When asked how many children she had, Camille's mother had always answered, ``One, and one's too many.'' The teenager is already emotionally and spiritually motherless, then, when her mother dies and she's dumped with relatives: Aunt Marge, who's interested in dog-breeding, not in mothering; and Uncle Scofield, who trains police dogs and is tormented by visions of a ghost-dog- -as well as by desire for Cam: Scofield is also the man who molested her in the bath when she was little. Worse, a flute teacher seduced Cam at age nine, invited other men to use her, photographed her for child pornography, and arranged an abortion when he eventually got her pregnant. Now, as a teenager, she has no firm sense of boundaries--sexual or metaphysical. She is haunted by longing for her mother's love--as well as by the ghost-children of her mother's many abortions--and willingly satisfies the sexual desires her presence stirs up in those around her. The sexual material here, though shocking, eventually grows tedious, but there's a generous scattering of insights: for a suspicious priest, sin is like an architect's drafting table, not ``so much something to forgive as it was something to lean his elbows on while he worked.'' Poetic prose often generates the appropriate aura, but--just as everyone's consciousness here is limited to sexual obsession-- the graphic cataloguing of ``body sharing'' all but obliterates character development.

Pub Date: June 28th, 1993
ISBN: 0-8135-1934-9
Page count: 205pp
Publisher: Rutgers Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1993