A Place for Kathy

Henry Denker, Author
Henry Denker, Author William Morrow & Company $24 (320p) ISBN 978-0-688-14963-5
Reviewed on: 04/28/1997
Release date: 05/01/1997
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The prolific Denker (To Marcy with Love) again fictionalizes a situation that the press has covered ad infinitum. This would-be tearjerker trades on feature stories that focus on the lives of children orphaned by AIDS. Beautiful Grace Cameron's husband, Kip, recently succumbed to hemophilia. Now she discovers that he probably also had AIDS contracted via a blood transfusion, and that she, too, is HIV positive. As Grace enters a race against time to find a home for her equally beautiful and brave 13-year-old daughter, Kathy, the reader follows the course of Grace's physical deterioration in terms of her rising virus and plummeting T-cell counts. In a plot rigged for soap opera, none of Grace's choices for surrogate parents can or will agree to adopt Kathy. The only choice seems the one Grace cannot accept, Kip's massively overbearing Uncle Harry, who drove his own son to suicide and wants to make Kathy into his idea of a real Cameron. Though the emotions and conflicts inherent in the plot are clear and touching, the pedestrian prose, which lacks the telling details that would invigorate the players, leaves the story flat and without drama. Reality is absent: Grace, who runs a small calligraphy and gift-wrapping business, is able to afford her medical treatment and maintain her house with nary a thought of financial insecurity. The stilted ending--Grace acting heroically, then the bereaved Kathy behaving like a stoic automaton--carries the book to a patently unrealistic conclusion. (May)
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