Piper

John E. Keegan, Author Permanent Press (NY) $25 (288p) ISBN 978-1-57962-029-5
The sleepy town of Stampede, Wash., is abuzz at the outset of Keegan's fast-paced, warm-hearted novel. Free-spirited artist Kathryn Scanlon, wife of newspaper editor Tom Scanlon, has just drowned in the Jacuzzi at the home of wealthy John Carlisle, Tom's boss. For 17-year-old narrator Piper Scanlon, Tom and Kathryn's adopted daughter, Kathryn's death marks the end of the world as she knows it. While her father copes by burying himself in work and alcohol, Piper shaves her head in frustration and anger. Kathryn's slightly senile father, Willard (and his collection of stray dogs), moves in with Piper and her father to help out around the house. Besides the dotty Willard, Piper's only ally is fellow outcast Dirk Thurgood, an awkward teen whose father is an abusive retired army officer. Both Piper and Dirk are fascinated by classmate Rozene Raymond, a beautiful Makah Indian. As Piper manages the first tough months following her mother's death, she is forced to examine some of her na ve assumptionsDabout her parents, about the nature of friendship and betrayal, about her own sexual identity and, most of all, about love. The absorbing coming-of-age chronicle culminates in a scandal, a tragedy and the revelation of a secretDdark events humorously punctuated by two wacky road trips. Though the plot developments sometimes spiral out of control, the quirky characters generally ring true. One hopes that Keegan (Clearwater Summer) will feature spirited, wisecracking Piper in a sequel. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
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