The Cactus Garden

William Dieter, Author Atheneum Books $15.95 (226p) ISBN 978-0-689-11802-9
The bonds that hold families together, common memories that time and distance cannot obliterate, are the subject of Dieter's (Hunter's Orange affecting new novel. Summoned to their father's deathbed, the four Donner children, Tess, Doc, DeeJay and Stewart, all now middle-aged and married, converge from their homes across the West. The journey takes them not only from Denver to the hospital in Wisconsin, but also back to a painful childhood. Their long drive becomes a form of catharsis as they replay old scenes, favorite games, forgotten fights. Attempting to understand the mysteries of their parents' lives, they are forced to remember the terrifying year their mother Mattie abandoned them to cruel uncles in Montana, and they must confront the fact that their brutal and sometimes violent father never loved them. At times this novel verges dangerously close on melodrama, but it is an insightful portrait of sibling rivalry and affection. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
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