Traveling Light

Katrina Kittle, Author
Katrina Kittle, Author Warner Books $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-446-52480-3
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Paperback - 310 pages - 978-0-06-145137-9
Hardcover - 421 pages - 978-0-7838-9173-6
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-446-67694-6
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-06-187749-0
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-06-167103-6
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 336 pages - 978-0-06-167107-4
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-06-167108-1
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Summer Zwolenick, the narrator of Kittle's debut novel, is a 26-year-old Ohio schoolteacher who has just enough charismatic mettle and emotional depth to keep the book from falling into the niche of sentimentalized stories in which an angelic young man with AIDS provides meaning and hope to his grieving and equally angelic family. Once a rising ballet star, Summer suffered an injury three years ago and now teaches high school near her suburban Dayton hometown, where she has relocated to be close to her beloved brother Todd, who is slowly dying of AIDS. Her love for her gay sibling is the only thing Summer is sure about, since she resents her mother, is ambivalent about her job and is frightened to take the plunge into marriage with her lover, Nicholas. Todd was a successful soundman in L.A.'s film industry and has come home to die near his parent's horse farm, with his handsome actor boyfriend, Jacob, at his side. Jacob is unfailingly supportive, as is Todd's live-in nurse, Arnicia. These and other characters are sketchily drawn, vehicles only for an assortment of social issues: a sister, Abby, is a battered wife; Arnicia is an African-American who spouts sassy, irreverent wisdom; Grandma Ann spent time in a concentration camp during WWII; Summer has problems at school with a gay youth and a homophobic troublemaker. Still, Summer's character is fully rounded, and part of her indecision about Nick stems from her idealization of the love between Todd and Jacob, who ""had something better than I had ever known. And I wanted it more than anything."" With Summer's story as the centerpiece, the book is absorbing and readable. In the end, her love for her brother moves the tale beyond cliche. Agent, Liz Trupin-Pulli. 7-city author tour. (Apr.)
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