UNDRESSING THE MOON by T. Greenwood

UNDRESSING THE MOON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A 30-year-old woman, near death, comes to grips with her mother’s abandonment of the family 15 years earlier.

When Piper Kinkaid was 14, her mother disappeared from the family’s working-class home in rural Vermont, perhaps with another man, certainly to escape her husband’s stifling neediness. Now Piper, in the last stages of breast cancer, begins to receive letters from her mother—wordless letters that contain nothing but shards of the glass her mother used in her art. With this, Greenwood (Nearer Than the Sky, 2000, etc.) begins to use glass imagery in a self-consciously literary attempt to unify her narrative as it moves between Piper’s struggle with approaching death, on the one hand, and the memories she has of her mother’s abandonment, on the other. Throughout, Piper’s first-person narrative portrays her as a pathetic victim of forces beyond her control, although readers may begin to feel curmudgeonly as the litany of misfortune—and her nobility—grows. After her mother left, Piper and her older brother Quinn had to fend for themselves, especially when their weak and ineffectual father latched onto a new woman. Score another abandonment for Piper, who quickly drifted into an affair with a widowed teacher with his own dark past. After being attacked by some high-school boys, Piper let Quinn believe the teacher was responsible. Now, as her cancer worsens and her best friend cares for her with remarkable selflessness, Piper toys with the possibility of contacting the teacher to apologize. In truth, his culpability is obvious: he took advantage of a needy young girl, in part because she reminded him of the daughter he gave up (as in abandoned) after his wife’s accidental death. Quinn, who has shown nothing but loving care for Piper, comes to visit. She tells him of her mother’s attempts at contact and considers whether to go see her. In the end, by now fading fast, Piper decides against it: this woman would not be the same she adored as a child.

Victimhood in all its glory.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-28473-X
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2001




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