First Aid

Janet Davey, Author . Little Brown/Back Bay $13.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-316-05997-8

British author Davey's mordantly affecting second novel begins with teenage Ella jumping off a stopped train to escape going with her recently divorced mother, Jo, and two younger siblings to Jo's childhood home in London. Reeling from a nasty breakup with loathsome rebound boyfriend Felpo (he cut her face with a broken wine bottle during their last fight), Jo makes no attempt to find Ella and lies to her family about Ella's absence during the visit home. In chapters that alternate between Jo's and Ella's perspectives, Davey plays out her dual running-away story lines: Ella grows increasingly desperate as she fends for herself—crashing on a junk shop floor and tracking down her father—while clinically depressed Jo grieves over the violent breakup with Felpo, but for reasons more sordid than the reader initially realizes. Davey's work will be appreciated by readers of Penelope Lively or Iris Murdoch—not much happens, but a great deal is felt. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 05/08/2006
Release date: 08/01/2006
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-7011-7736-2
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-09-946964-3
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-4481-3735-0
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