DRIFTING by Stephanie Gertler


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Another mawkish family drama from the author of Jimmy’s Girl (2001), etc.

Again, an obligatory tearjerker plot: Claire Bishop, a consulting psychologist for the Connecticut Department of Social Services, who also runs a seafront inn with her husband Eli, a saintly veterinarian, accepts two last guests before closing for the season: a nervous father traveling alone with his blind daughter. Eli points out that something seems not quite right, but Claire doesn’t agree, willing herself to believe the man’s melodramatic tale. Nicholas Pierce, who calls himself an architect, says that his selfish, glamorous ex-wife insists on placing the pathetic little girl in an institution, and he intends to protect his only child from this grim fate as long as possible. Claire makes sympathetic murmurs—as her own beloved offspring have recently left for college, perhaps this little girl will cheer her up. And let’s not forget the subtext: Claire herself was abandoned by a selfish, glamorous woman who’d cherished hopes of a theatrical career—and who simply plopped little Claire into a playpen next to her pharmacist daddy and disappeared, never to be seen again. Is this early abandonment clouding Claire’s judgment now? You bet. (She seems blinder than the little girl she frets over, not even noticing that the child’s hair is dyed and ignoring her father’s odd behavior, like strolling on the beach with a briefcase he never lets go of, supposedly full of blueprints.) Then Kayla, who suffers from juvenile glaucoma, is suddenly in pain and begging for her eyedrops. Claire arranges to have the prescription delivered to the inn—and soon finds that her mysterious guests are gone, leaving behind only a bottle of hair dye dripping into the bathtub. Cops search rather lackadaisically through the next few chapters, hoping to reunite a bereft mother and her sightless child—but Claire’s emotional journey has only just begun. Will she ever find her own mother? And if so, how will she feel? Afterthought ending wraps it all up.

Glum and contrived.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-525-94735-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2003


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