""Freedom's messy stuff, I think,"" observes Lizzie Bean Mastracola, a high school principal in Pennsylvania, to a student being sexually abused by her father. Wise and patient Lizzie, the most compelling character in Busch's ( Closing Arguments ) latest fine-tuned exploration of love's pain and moments of grace, confronts the exercise of that messy stuff in her own family as well as in her students' lives. Her grown adopted daughter Sarah has abruptly left her husband Barrett and their six-year-old son Stephen to search for her birth mother. Barrett, in turn, has left the bewildered Stephen with Lizzie and her newspaper editor husband Will while he sets off after Sarah. Busch advances the narrative from the point of view of each of the main characters, including Gloria, the visiting nurse/herbalist from rural Pennsylvania whose newspaper ad--expressing a wish to find a daughter she gave up for adoption--Sarah has read. Sarah's meeting with Gloria, who is indeed her biological mother, fails to answer her questions about the meaning and durability of love, but the woman's interest in Stephen sends Sarah back to her parents and son, although not soon enough to keep the boy from danger. Busch's resolution, although not happy for everyone, remains utterly true to his characters, all of whom he makes his readers care for--especially stalwart Lizzie. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/03/1993 Release date: 05/01/1993 Genre: Fiction
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