Against Gravity

Lucy Ferriss, Author Simon & Schuster $22 (0p) ISBN 978-0-684-80091-2
Set in a drowsy town in the Hudson Valley, Ferriss's (Philip's Girl) tale of Gwyn ""Stick"" Stickley's childhood unfolds in gripping fashion. Relating her story as a young adult, Stick marks the beginning of her sentience with the Challenger space shuttle crash and the death of teacher Christa McAuliffe. Throughout her narrative, Stick invokes a talisman-like verse that sums up for her both the beauty and the otherworldliness of that tragedy: ""They slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God."" Later, trapped between the torpor of high-school hijinks and her estrangement from her overworked parents, Stick abets her friend JoAnn Harlett, the school ""easy,"" who contrives to deliver an illegitimate baby without the knowledge of her fundamentalist parents. Again and again, Stick finds her memories flitting outward to probe the crevices of small-town secrets--from those of Gray, the shopowner accused of molesting his foster children, to those of her friends and family--and then bending back inward, toward the mysteries of God, death and the extraordinary nobility the Challenger disaster exemplifies for her. Ultimately, Stick finds her quandaries resolved through the quiet strength of ordinary people. Although sometimes affected in tone and awkward in plot, this strange story carries a kind of grace, making apparent the miracle of greatness in ordinary life. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 05/31/1999
Release date: 06/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
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