Bridge of Sand

Janet Burroway, Author . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $25 (328p) ISBN 978-0-15-101543-6

Burroway is best known for her textbook, Writing Fiction , but in this novel she demonstrates that even skillful writers can stumble. On September 11, 2001, Dana Cleveland sees a distant column of smoke through the window of the limousine carrying her to her husband’s funeral. She’ll later learn the smoke was from Flight 93, providing the first of many invocations of 9/11 that serve no purpose other than to undermine what would otherwise be a decent novel. Dana leaves Pennsylvania to revisit her roots, and while searching out her grandmother’s home in Georgia, she hooks up with childhood infatuation Cassius Huston, who is black, separated from his wife, has a daughter and belongs to a large family who would not approve of Dana, who is white. When the wife threatens Dana, she flees to Pelican Bay, Fla., where she quickly becomes entrenched in the mostly working-class community and grapples with problems that test her in ways she’s never anticipated. The complexities of Dana’s and Cassius’s relationship and of Pelican Bay are finely wrought, but Burroway’s exploration of socioeconomic angst is marred by the novel’s ghoulish references to 9/11. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2008
Release date: 03/01/2009
Genre: Fiction
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