Members of a Southern family--a young girl, her state trooper father, two sets of grandparents, her runaway mother--and their neighbors and friends struggle to cope with the child's serious, perhaps terminal, illness. By the author of Heading West. 15,000 first printing.
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The first novel by Betts (Heading West, 1981) in over ten years indulges in the clich‚s of domestic melodrama--a divorced couple, the illness of their only child, the burden and joy of non- nuclear families--but it's all done in an inviting Southern voice. Unfortunately, Betts has long been outclassed by those who followed her earlier example: Lee Smith, Marianne Gingher, and Kaye Gibbons, to name a few. Mary Thompson, the clever and sharp-witted daughter of a highway patrolman in North Carolina, is the latest in a long line of spunky fictional Southern girls. Full of yearning for the mother who ran off when she was ten, Mary develops an obsession with horses. Her stoical dad, Frank, has no idea how to raise a girl but is full of good intentions. When Mary is diagnosed with chronic renal failure, Frank's life also takes a turn for the worse. He can't commit to either of the women in his life--a local journalist or Mary's riding instructor--and finds matters further complicated by the return of his ex, a vain beauty whose selfishness has tragic consequences and whose entire family is considered trashy by Frank's supportive, devout mother and his sarcastic father. Dialysis stunts Mary's development into womanhood and makes her an impatient candidate for a transplant. While her grandparents bury all their long-nurtured grudges, her mother--the ideal donor- -disappears with her new, young husband. The teary denouement comes after a blow-by-blow narrative of Mary's illness. In her effort to survey the range of human reactions to the suffering of others, Betts relies on too many pointless subplots that just wander into oblivion and fantasy. She also suffers from a penchant for puns and one-liners, putting words in her protagonists mouths that are inappropriately out of character. Still, guaranteed to exercise the tear ducts. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
A writer as wise and humane as Betts should be a household name. It's been a decade since her last novel, the poignant and funny Heading West , and in that time her eye for human frailty has grown both sharper and more compassionate. Here she chronicles a family in crisis and pain as a child battles a serious illness, yet, as always, her ironic insight and natural wit enliven the tale. Still clearing the emotional debris left after his selfish, narcissistic wife, Christine, decamped three years earlier, North Carolina state trooper Frank Thompson is lovingly raising their 12-year-old daughter, Mary Grace. Mary is a typical adolescent, masking her insecurities with a nonchalant air. When she becomes obsessed with horses, Frank begins a romance with her young riding instructor, but the balance of all their lives goes askew when Mary develops kidney disease. Medication and dialysis fail, a kidney transplant is indicated and Christine, the only possible donor, shows her true colors. As always, Betts's characters are ordinary people etched in indelible detail; Frank Thompson's love for his daughter is rendered achingly real, and the feckless Christine and the grandparents on both sides are at once idiosyncratic and resoundingly believable. While yearning for her absent mother, Mary acquires a stoic acceptance of her illness and a deeper understanding of the inequities of life, filtered through a youngster's misperceptions and fantasies. Betts does not settle for sentimental, easy answers in this deeply moving tale.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Knopf, 1994. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0679426213
Book Description Knopf, 1994. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0679426213
Book Description Knopf, 1994. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110679426213
Book Description Book Condition: Brand New. Book Condition: Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 97806794262191.0
Book Description Knopf. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0679426213 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW6.0338428