The Sometimes Daughter

Emily Snowell Keller
Sherri Wood Emmons. Kensington, $15 trade paper (371p) ISBN 978-0-7582-5325-5
Reviewed on: 11/28/2011
Release date: 01/31/2012
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Sweet Judy Blue Eyes is born in a Woodstock tent to free-spirited, “blissfully stoned” hippies Kirk and Cassie in Emmons’s second novel (after Prayers and Lies). Cassie has a hard time adjusting to the constraints of motherhood and family, refusing to give up free love and drugs, and alternates between ignoring and lavishing controlling love on her confused daughter. She wants to take Judy to live on a commune, but Kirk wrestles sole custody, leading Cassie to run away. She dodges a bullet by narrowly missing out on a trip to Jonestown, and continues her spiraling search for self. Attempts at connecting with her daughter only show how unstable and selfish, if well-intentioned, she is. Meanwhile, as a teenager, Judy is forging her own awkward way in the world (boyfriend, drugs, unwanted pregnancy) and struggles to find a measure of forgiveness for her mother. Emmons has a keen grasp of the difficulties of mother-daughter dynamics, and the specific struggles of young parents who are still figuring themselves out. She also paints the shifting turmoil of mid-’60s to early-’80s America with complexity, creating a vivid, expansive background for an intimate story. Agent: Sterling Lord Literistic. (Feb.)
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