How Far Would You Have Gotten If I Hadn't Called You Back?

Valerie Hobbs, Author
Valerie Hobbs, Author Orchard Books (NY) $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-531-09480-8
Reviewed on: 10/02/1995
Release date: 10/01/1995
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-14-038254-9
Hardcover - 978-0-531-08780-0
Prebound-Sewn - 306 pages - 978-0-606-11483-7
Prebound-Other - 978-0-613-72289-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 306 pages - 978-0-439-58396-1
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This accomplished first novel, set in the late '50s, brings uncommon depth to what at first glance seems a conventional plot--16-year-old Bron Lewis moves with her family from New Jersey to Ojala, Calif., and wants to fit in. Despite providing two radically different potential boyfriends for Bron, Hobbs is far more ambitious and skillful a writer than to focus on teen romance. For starters, the family is scarred by Mr. Lewis's suicide attempt two years ago, a trauma that haunts Bron and complicates her attitudes toward her parents, who run a diner as charming and unsuccessful as Anne Tyler's Homesick Restaurant. Bron, an unusually astute narrator, coolly dissects her feelings and her impressions. Admiring the pleasure-minded Ojala teens, she is mindful of their shallowness even as she, too, cruises down the strip and enters a few drag races. Lusting after J.C., a James Dean type, she can't understand her attraction to Will, the West Point-bound son of a family with more breeding than money. Hobbs's winding, sometimes slow-moving plot takes in serious issues--domestic violence, teen sex, alcoholism--and measures their effect on relationships. Her pacing may be off, but her insights are invariably canny. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
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