Safe Passage

Ellyn Bache, Author, Peter Radetsky, Photographer Crown Publishers $16.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-517-56807-1
The 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut provides the crisis element in this moving novel about a family waiting to hear if a son and brother has survived the blast. During the course of the three long days between news of the bombing and the call that they alternately hope for and dread, the Singer family is transformed by the agony of suspense. Held hostage in the limbo of expectation, each of the six other brothers develops his own response to thoughts of Percival's death. The youngest, Simon, born with a missing ear, decides that he will make a deal with God to have reconstructive surgery if Percival has survived. Gideon, long Percival's rival at track meets, develops a phantom paralysis. Their father Patrick has periodic bouts of inexplicable blindness. The central figure, their mother Mag, is riddled with guilt and doubts. ``I never wanted children,'' she says. ``This is the punishment.'' Finally, bone-weary and numb with grief, she vents her frustrations on a neighbor's menacing dog. In these desperate hours, the family first turns on itself but then slowly begins to heal, as if in preparation for the blow, if Percival is indeed among those lying crushed beneath the wreckage. Bache's language is fluid and funny, and one comes to care about every one of her characters. There are echoes of John Irving in her evocation of this all-American family, but she skillfully avoids the cute or disgusting possibilities, and the results are vivid and heartwarming. Literary Guild alternate. (August)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1988
Release date: 07/01/1988
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-553-56964-3
Paperback - 234 pages - 978-0-9635967-7-2
Ebook - 133 pages - 978-1-886420-09-0
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