REPLACING DAD by Shelley Fraser Mickle


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 From second-novelist Mickle (The Queen of October, 1989): an engaging, sweet-natured account of a Florida family's survival in the wake of a father's desertion. The Marsh family lives in Palm Key, Florida, a small town where father George is a grade-school principal who leaves wife Linda and their three children--Drew, Mandy, George, Jr.--for Mandy's fifth-grade teacher. The consequences of the divorce are told in alternate chapters by deserted Linda and 15-year-old Drew. The emotional accuracy of many scenes rings true, and the fairy- tale nature of the upbeat narrative is forestalled long enough to be credible. Linda goes to work as a clerk in the payroll office at the town dump, and Drew fortunately has an accident with a Mercedes owned by the new doctor in town, Mark Haley. Haley, of course, decides to hire Drew's mother in his office, and the eventual romance that develops is perhaps too predictable. Meanwhile, there's the usual panoply of predicaments: the roof gives way, and Rex the Roofer makes a pass at Linda and sneaks into her bedroom; after obscene phone calls, Linda gets on unlisted number; the dog dies, and a new one must be found and named, etc. At ``Fort Marsh,'' life is never easy, but neither is it usually more taxing than the trials and tribulations of a TV sitcom life. Finally, Drew uses a fishing rodeo as the medium of rapprochement between his mother and the doctor when things seem a little rocky. Mickle doesn't entirely avoid sentimentality here--but she does zero in on the complexities of day-to-day survival and seasonal change to chronicle the way a family resuscitates itself.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-56512-017-5
Page count: 266pp
Publisher: Algonquin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993