FLYING IN PLACE by Susan Palwick


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An imaginative first novel about incest from a young doctoral candidate at Yale. Twelve-year-old Emma Gray, daughter of a surgeon and a schoolteacher, lives in the shadow of her ""perfect"" younger sister, Ginny, who died at the age of ten, before Emma was born. Emma, who must also endure her surgeon father's early morning visits, finds a novel way of coping: she leaves her body behind and flies around her bedroom to escape the awful sound of his heavy breathing. Eventually, Ginny visits Emma, and the two sisters begin to fly together to a favorite retreat. In time, Ginny shares her own shameful secret: their father abused her, too. Meanwhile, the school nurse and mother of Emma's best earthly friend, Jane, has noticed that something is wrong with Emma. But the truth doesn't out until the day that Emma's aunt comes to visit and reveals her own suspicions about the father and his relationship to Ginny before she died. Told in a strong narrative voice that pulls the reader in--despite an occasional awkward and uneven handling of plot and character (the father, for instance, is not really developed; too much is made of Emma's pretense of menstruating). Still, Palwick's debut has a wonderful fantasy tone and builds to a convincing climax. It may lack the impact of some of the more hard-edged novels about incest--e.g., those by Kathryn Davis or Kaye Gibbons--but it certainly stirs sympathy for the paths of survival such victims must take.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0765313863
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Tor--dist. by St. Martin's