House Arrest

Ellen Meeropol, Author
Ellen Meeropol, Red Hen (CDC, dist.), $20.95 trade paper (220p) ISBN 978-1-59709-499-3
Reviewed on: 11/29/2010
Release date: 02/01/2011
Paperback - 426 pages - 978-1-4596-4691-9
Paperback - 216 pages - 978-1-59709-418-4
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In this strong first novel, an unusual relationship develops between a home-care nurse and the pregnant cult member under house arrest to whom she is assigned prenatal visits. Emily Klein suspects that this new assignment has been dumped on her because her boss is trying to get rid of her, but she quickly warms to her new charge, Pippa Glenning, court-ordered to wear an ankle monitor after the deaths by exposure of her 14-month-old daughter and another child in the communal Family of Isis home she lives in—considered a cult by the disapproving community; the two children froze to death during a night of ritualistic celebrations. Emily's ability to empathize with Pippa stems from her own family problems: her father was imprisoned for setting fire to a draft board office during the Vietnam War and Emily provides daily care for her cousin's daughter, born with spina bifida. Throughout, Emily is vexed by the question: is something wrong just because the consequences are awful? Meeropol's work is thoughtful and tightly composed, unflinching in taking on challenging subjects and deliberating uneasy ethical conundrums. (Feb.)
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