American Beauty

C. J. Hribal, Author Simon & Schuster $16.45 (269p) ISBN 978-0-671-62523-8
`""Seventeen, going on ancient,'' Dorie Brown flees her family's Wisconsin farm and a culture where women grow up fast using their looks to mortgage their way out and up. She is really running away from life, but she gets no farther than Milwaukee. Although she evinces a tough facade, and is always testing herself for courage and daring, Dorie is young and vulnerable. Already having undergone an abortion, she is willing to barter her body for advancement from her job as a waitress; she also succumbs to the lesbian overtures of her roommate Mia. In strong merciless prose, Hribal conveys Dorie's bitter, cynical view of life, her love/hate relationship with her alcoholic, hostile mother and the tenderness she feels towards her passive father, whose operation for cancer briefly draws Dorie back to the farm. Restless and bored, living in a world made ugly by poverty and predatory males, Dorie is unable to make emotional connections and commitments. Gradually, however, she matures, takes control of her life, learns about trust and friendship and loyalty, and in the book's final scene makes peace with her mother. Tough, gritty dialogue and a cutting evocation of the life in small rural communities and on the dreary edge of city slums give this novel by the author of Matty's Heart a compelling immediacy. (October 12)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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