Firefly Cloak

Sheri Reynolds, Author . Shaye Areheart $23 (285p) ISBN 978-0-609-61008-4

Reynolds's The Rapture of Cannan was a list-topping Oprah pick in 1996. Tenyears later, Reynolds's fourth novel gets going quickly by page five: alcoholic, drug-addicted single mom Sheila, taking up in Alabama with the latest in a string of ne'er-do-wells, deserts her two young children at a campground. Eight-year-old Tessa Lee awakes to find toddler Travis wandering around with a phone number magic-markered on his back and has only the shawl left by her mother, festooned with fireflies made of colorful thread, for comfort. Four pages and seven years later, Tessa Lee, who has been living with her grandparents, runs away to confront her mother, who has been sighted working as a mermaid at a Massachusetts boardwalk; she tells Sheila of Travis's death two years earlier and promptly loses her mother a second time. Ranging over the points of view of Tessa Lee, Sheila and distraught grandmother Lil, Reynolds flashes back periodically while the three try to eke out a present. Reynolds is frank in depicting Sheila's often reprehensible behavior and tender in portraying the warmth between Tessa Lee and Lil. The book never fully gels, but it is uplifting in its explorations of family, forgiveness and redemption. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/13/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
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