The Girl Below

Bianca Zander, Author
Bianca Zander. Morrow, $14.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-210816-6
Reviewed on: 01/07/2013
Release date: 06/01/2012
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-06-210817-3
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Zander's haunting debut novel reveals a only child, Suki Piper, who returns to London after a self-imposed 10-year exile in New Zealand hoping to exorcise lingering demons of a party her parents threw when she was eight. Suki, fearful of much—including a statue owned by an elderly neighbor, and an abandoned World War II air raid bunker—has her expectations of self-discovery in London deflated when, unable to find employment, the 28 year-old imposes on unwilling friends for lodging. An opportunity to temporarily care for an elderly former neighbor returns her to the flat where she grew up and her flashbacks intensify. Zander deftly advances Suki's quest for self by alternating her life in 1981 and 2003, documenting a series of events that left her seeking drug-fueled oblivion. Her poor vision and thick glasses metaphorically mirror her inability to see the world as it is, even when friends and family reprimand her for her pity parade. Yet, Suki cannot move on until she can terminate the frightening dissociative trips into the menacing bunker of her childhood fears. Although Suki's aimless unreliability becomes tedious, Zander pulls her together for a final epiphany in this well-crafted novel whose emotional impact will linger after the final page. (June)
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