NOTES FOR ANOTHER LIFE by Sue Ellen Bridgers


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Like Bridgers' All Together Now (1979), this family story is grounded in the home of a loving, supportive anchor-of-a-grandmother and her husband who is equally stabilizing but less central. In contrast, both the parents have abdicated--the father retreating into an incapacitating depression that has him perpetually in and out of hospital, the beautiful mother off in Atlanta, busy with her career as a store-window decorator. The children, 13-year-old Wren and her brother Kevin, 16, are distressed by their father's illness and unable to accept their mother's virtual rejection. Early in the story Karen, the mother, comes home (as she does occasionally) and announces that she's being promoted and transferred to Chicago, even farther away. As a ""technicality,"" she's also divorcing her husband. Kevin, the more troubled of the two children, is more bereft than ever and more than a little worried that he's inherited the family insanity. His moodiness drives his girlfriend away, and the whole interlocking burden drives him to a suicide attempt before he begins to accept how things must be. Wren shows her strength earlier, expressing concern for her brother and hope for her father when he seems well (though he doesn't stay well), and she is able to go along with Karen's limited stabs at playing mother--without going along with any pretence that this is the real thing. Wren also acquires a boyfriend, a simpler, stable sort from a happy family, and begins to question how she will reconcile her commitment to him with her commitment to a career in music. This dilemma, and the pair's mutual decency, solid regard, and wise conversations seem unrealistically mature for a 13-year-old. However, Wren is a steadfast little presence who establishes herself as a person and a character. Though the story begins slowly, on a note of pity for these two near-orphaned children in their soap-opera plight, readers can't help warming to Bridgers' steady, encroaching portrayal of their concern for each other and their independent coming to terms.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Knopf