The River Beyond the World
 

What the Thunder Said

Janet Peery, Author
Janet Peery, Author . St. Martin's $24.95 (306p) ISBN 978-0-312-25263-2
Reviewed on: 01/01/2007
Release date: 03/01/2007
Paperback - 306 pages - 978-0-312-42793-1
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4668-5718-6
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The powers of nature drive a permanent wedge between two teenage sisters in the uneven second novel by National Book Award–finalist (for The River Beyond the World , 1996) Peery. Sisters Mackie and Etta Spoon—dutiful and a "pistol," respectively—grow up on an Oklahoma farm battered into barrenness during the dust bowl years. The secrets they keep from each other (Etta knows the truth about Mackie's parentage; Mackie knows about Etta's secret lover) cause a rift that widens when they compete for the affections of Audie, a 17-year-old Indian drifter their father hires on as help. A series of misfortunes—their mother dies, their father sells the farm—sends the sisters in separate directions, but after they leave home, Peery's finely wrought narrative is subsumed by short –story–like chapters that, even at their best (the vivid chapter depicting Georgette, the daughter Etta abandoned as a baby, as an old woman on a wild journey of her own), lack overall cohesion. Peery's writerly gifts are substantial, but this isn't her finest work. (Mar.)

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