Ferris Beach

Jill McCorkle, Author
Jill McCorkle, Author Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill $18.95 (343p) ISBN 978-0-945575-39-9
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
Set, like her previous novels, in a small Southern town, this coming-of-age story demonstrates McCorkle's ( Tending to Virginia ) deepening maturity as a writer and a new subtlety of prose and theme. Nine-year-old Kate Burns is acutely aware of the port-wine mark on her face. Chafing under her mother's straitlaced supervision, she yearns to resemble her mysterious, racy older cousin Angela. She envies her best friend, Misty, whose mother, flamboyant, reckless Mo Rhodes, brings an exotic dimension to the neighborhood. During the course of the narrative, which carries Kate through her high school years, McCorkle conveys a child's perceptions of family friction and community tensions, her growing awareness of vulnerability and sadness in adult lives, and her introduction to sexual cruelty and death. Yet McCorkle controls her story with dextrous skill; these events unfold gradually and inevitably from the stream of daily life. Whether portraying the love/hate relationship of best friends, the pangs of an ungainly girl during adolescence or the insult-laden repartee of teenagers attracted to one another, McCorkle illuminates character with ironic humor and empathic insight. (Oct.)
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