Baby's Breath

Lynne Hugo, Author Synergistic Press $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-912184-13-5
A mother-daughter relationship is severely tested in this chilling novel about infanticide by the authors of Swimming Lessons. Single mother Leah Pacey misses her daughter, Alyssa (""Allie""), when Allie goes off to college in Berkeley. But she feels a new lease on life, too, and gives up her real estate job in Philadelphia to paint full-time. Meanwhile, Allie is undergoing a very different transformation. After a brief, fumbling fling, she discovers she is pregnant, but fails to fully acknowledge her condition, even to herself. It is clear from the beginning that there is something very wrong with this reclusive honors student. She sleeps for 12 to 14 hours at a stretch, is adamant about never returning to Philly (although she does end up going home for a brief Thanksgiving visit) and moves into her own apartment but doesn't leave a forwarding address. Allie carries her secret pregnancy to full term and delivers her baby in a BART subway station; then, in a state of delirium, she checks into a filthy rooming house. When Allie's kindly neighbor notices that Allie is missing, she contacts Leah. Allie is arrested when she returns to the BART station where she left her baby, who has since been found dead, and Allie is charged with murder. Leah's and Allie's stories are told in counterpoint, as the novel builds up to the climactic trial scenes. The novel's two central voices are so seamlessly interwoven, one would never suspect that the authors created this moving and disturbing novel via long distance correspondence. The poignancy they achieve allows the reader to overlook an occasional lapse into clich and stereotype. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/2000
Release date: 01/01/2000
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