Playing with Matches

Carolyn Wall. Bantam, $15 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-345-52569-7
Wall’s stunning second novel (after Sweeping Up Glass) tells the heart-wrenching tale of Clea Shine, a precocious girl growing up in the shadow of a northern Mississippi prison in the 1980s. Clea, a white girl, has always lived with her black “aunt” Jerusha and Jerusha’s sister in False River, a stone’s throw from the house where her mother frequently entertains guards from the prison and other local men. Though she loves Auntie, Clea’s longing for her mother often sends her across Potato Shed Road, where she sees too much and gets too little from her mother. Meanwhile, Clea consorts with colorful characters including separated conjoined twins born with three arms between them, a boy who lives in a tree, and another boy being held captive under a neighbor’s house. Traumatized and heartsick, 12-year-old Clea flees after she sets fire to her mother’s house, with disastrous results, and only returns to False River two decades later when a tropical storm destroys her own house and she discovers that her husband is unfaithful. Wall’s talent and empathy are evident in this story of learning to forgive. Agent: Danny Baror, Baror International, Inc. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/21/2012
Release date: 07/10/2012
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 191 pages - 978-0-345-53439-2
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-1-78087-547-7
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