Emily Barr, Author . Plume $13 (336p) ISBN 978-0-452-28382-4

The author of Backpack once again shows off her rare talent for maintaining a breezy, witty style and a light touch while exploring such serious concerns as drug addiction, unhappy families and self-destructive youthful rebellion. Lina Pritchett is an elementary school teacher in the Australian outback with a husband, a son and another baby on the way. There's nothing unusual about her life—except that she's actually someone else. A decade ago, Lina—née Daisy Fraser—was a 20-year-old drug-addicted dancer running with glamorous London hipsters. When several of her high-profile friends overdosed, she faced legal charges for her role in their deaths. She faked suicide and assumed a new identity in tiny Craggy Rock, Australia. And she's gotten away with it, until her former best friend, Sophie, spots her at a wedding. Sophie can't keep Lina's secret for long, and soon Sophie's fiancé, a tabloid journalist, is sniffing out the story. Everything in Lina's new life—her marriage, custody of her children—is on the line, and she may be thrown in the clink. Barr has a great premise and an engaging cast; earthy narrator Lina is especially strong—from the opening pages she gives the impression of someone whose peace of mind is fragile and hard won. Interspersed with Lina's chapters are those narrated by Lawrence, the tabloid writer, whose voice is likable but less distinctive (each of his chapters opens with a tepid "top five" list à la Nick Hornby). The only significant flaw is that Barr squanders her carefully wrought narrative tension with a too tidy ending. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 01/13/2003
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Fiction
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