Meteors in August

Melanie Rae Thon, Author Random House (NY) $18.95 (275p) ISBN 978-0-394-57664-0
Bullied wives, maimed men, haters of Indians, exhibitionists, petty preachers and rebel congregations are among the northern Montana townspeople who grope for individual deliverance in the background of this exceptionally promising debut novel. Misfit Lizzie, its adolescent narrator, escapes her older sister's predicament--a teenage pregnancy that caused her to run away when Lizzie was still a child--and concludes: ``I figured a girl wasn't going to get too many breaks in her life and that I'd better find a way to show God I was grateful.'' She is guided by the local Holy Roller (``Jesus might be kind, but God and Mrs. Graves were only merciful''), but observes that fire-and-brimstone goodness does not stave off catastrophe. Rather, she learns not to reject sin but to forgive it. These themes might seem syrupy in less able hands, but Thon's steely-eyed, sharpshooting prose brings both urgency and spontaneity to her characters and their conflicts. Lizzie's feelings of rejection, her determination and her perceptions of the stultifying rural squalor are wrenchingly palpable, and Thon is clearly a writer to watch. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990
Release date: 09/01/1990
Paperback - 275 pages - 978-0-571-12918-8
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