A series of vignettes reveals the inner lives of a group of teens—and a few adults—over a tumultuous summer in Cimadori’s second novel.
In 1962, 10-year-old Gina Fontana is attacked and raped by a pedophile in his car; she’s saved when an old woman, whom local children call a witch, pulls the man off of her. The woman calls her a hussy and sends her home. Gina’s mother doesn’t want to call the police for fear of ruining her daughter’s reputation, and Gina later feels guilty when three other girls are raped and murdered in the Miami area. As the nation goes crazy in the wake of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Gina’s discovery of the Beatles keeps her from completely losing herself, as does her habit of writing in a journal. In 1967, Gina is 15, and she and her classmate Darlene, her childhood friend Manny, Native-American Miccosukee teenager Jeff Tiger, and older New York teen Sharon, among others, experience a summer that changes all their lives. Jeff confesses his feelings for Gina, and with his help, she’s finally able to face her childhood demons. After Darlene is caught having an affair with her mother’s married boss, she runs away from home. Manny, who wants his family to finally move on from his brother’s death, inadvertently discovers dark family secrets, and Sharon, after giving her hippie sister money for an abortion, makes choices about her own sexuality. There’s no overarching plot here; the hints that Gina’s rapist will be brought to justice fall by the wayside, and life goes on for the characters much as real life does, unresolved and unfinished. Overall, the vignettes concern themselves heavily with sex and sexuality, and the characters do grow and develop, revealing their complexity against the backdrop of the chaotic late 1960s. This isn’t quite a cohesive novel, as it offers little in the way of closure for the reader, but it does follow the characters through to satisfactory conclusions.
A diverse, ambitious tale of the 1960s.