Song of the Orange Moons

Lori Ann Stephens, Author
Lori Ann Stephens, Blooming Tree (NBN, dist.), $23.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-933831-22-0
Reviewed on: 01/17/2011
Release date: 12/01/2010
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Stephens's small-scale debut captures several facets of adolescence from three overlapping perspectives. Rebecka, a passionate girl struggling to escape her parents' poor marriage, relays an impressionistic story of alienation. Helen, her misfit best friend, desperately seeks to connect with others—literally, by secretly touching them; and Adelle, an older, neighboring widow, watches over Rebecka and Helen and shares memories of her own brutal childhood. Alternating among these three voices, which eventually become entwined, Stephens creates a strictly personal portrait of longing and discovery. Though macroscopic themes arise, such as Rebecka's attempt to reconcile her Columbian and American heritage, Helen's effort to understand her Jewish identity, and Adelle's frank confrontation with death, they largely fail to create depth beyond their individual threads. Broad similarities among the style and tone of her speakers blur the experiences and limit their impact. Small, acute observations (a professor with "walnuts for knuckles") and intimate encounters are Stephens's strengths, and readers will appreciate the rare friendships that bring comfort after hardship. (Nov.)
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