The Sweet In-Between

Sheri Reynolds, Author . Crown/Shaye Areheart $23 (208p) ISBN 978-0-307-39389-0

Bestseller Reynolds (The Rapture of Canaan ) delivers again with this story of an embattled teenage girl growing up in a Virginia tidewater town. Kendra “Kenny” Lugo has it tough: her mother is dead, her father is in jail, and she is what others might call gender-confused (“the year before I cut off all my hair and started binding myself up”). Living with her father's girlfriend, Aunt Glo, Kenny is approaching 18 and facing the possibility of being kicked out with a sense of impending doom. When their neighbor, habitually drunk Jarvis Stanley, accidentally kills a college girl, Kenny becomes fixated on the tragedy. Meanwhile, Aunt Glo struggles with painkiller addiction while raising her own kids, 12-year-old Quincy and teenaged Tim-Tim, and her runaway daughter's seven-year-old, Daphne. Kenny makes a fascinating, cagey narrator, revealing an unexpectedly dangerous family dynamic with a matter-of-factness that belies her fear and anger, and Reynolds weds expository memories with Kenny's day-to-day so seamlessly, it looks easy. Simple prose rich with subtext, convincing dialogue and a fascinating protagonist combine to produce a heartstring-plucker that's explicit, tender, sad and hopeful. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 08/25/2008
Release date: 11/01/2008
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