Evangeline Starr Raybuck is the young heroine who wades through the quagmire of a brutal, intense sexual coming of age in Gibbon's first novel, a catalogue of vice and neglect in rural Pennsylvania told in straightforward, sometimes graphic prose. Now that high school is over for ""Vangie"" and her friends, they turn from carelessness to recklessness, taking their drinking, drugs and sex to new extremes. Vangie is in love with Del Pardee, and her best friend, June Keel, is paired off with Ray Sparrow, but the foursome isn't as stable as they believe, and their relationships quickly grow complicated, jealous and violent. June lives with Ray and his brother Luke. Despite Ray's devotion, June falls for Luke, and then is too scared, na ve and attached to hurt her boyfriend with the truth. Though Vangie sees devastation ahead for June, she only narrowly escapes disaster herself when she risks her relationship with Del to satisfy her curiosity with his brother Frank, and with June's brother Kevin, both cruel and violent sex partners. After Del's drug overdose lands him in detox, and June, in a moment of heavy-handed foreshadowing, reveals a loaded gun above Luke's bed, Vangie begins to take stock of her decisions. Until this point, Gibbon focuses on the reflexive way Vangie uses sex: to get love, pleasure, revenge, adventure, pain or money; most of this sex uses up Vangie instead. Gibbon's frank and repetitious renderings of these acts dominate the novel, sacrificing character development so that when the inevitable debacle occurs, Vangie's bid for a better life seems faraway and incomprehensible. The young woman ostensibly emerges with new direction and insight, but the inconsistency of her strength and the passive hopelessness of her existence thus far leave the reader unconvinced. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000 Release date: 05/01/2000 Genre: Fiction
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