Moving Lila

Julie Fleming, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-312-24409-5
The relationships among three siblings are tested, twisted and transformed when their dying father makes an unusual last request. Fleming's debut opens with protagonist Mira DeLand, 28, her older brother, Kearney, and teenage sister, Kat, coping with the proposed terms of their father's will. Mira is shocked to learn that she is to inherit Lila, her childhood home in Ona Island, N.C., but that upon their father's death, she must move the structure to where the family now resides in Mims, Ark. Kat, who was born after the family abandoned the Ona Island residence, doesn't know that Lila is a graveyard of family secrets that everyone has conspired to keep from her. Fleming sets up a provocative dilemma when Kat insists on accompanying Mira on the mission of moving the house, not only because Mira must keep her sister from discovering the key factor of their mother's indiscretion, but also by introducing secondary characters--the workers hired to move the house--who ratchet up the sibling rivalry between the sisters. The trip serves as a catalyst for Mira and Kat to reveal their own secrets, with the intriguing irony that while Mira desperately tries to hide their mother's past, she discovers that their father concealed some significant events, as well. Fleming's minimalist style occasionally downplays the emotionally charged possibilities the plot might inspire, failing to exploit opportunities when the story is poised for redemptive moments: When Kat says, ""So we're moving a house named for either Dad's close friend or his mistress?"" Mira simply responds, ""I guess we are."" Though the author elsewhere deftly maneuvers the humorous angles of her characters' predicaments, for the most part the DeLands respond blandly, and are kept, inexplicably, at arm's length from the reader even as they face their most intense confrontations and epiphanies. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2000
Release date: 03/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4299-7390-8
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-312-27533-4
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