Daughters of Memory

Janis Arnold, Author Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill $16.95 (378p) ISBN 978-0-945575-68-9
Two sisters battle over how to make sense of their troubled childhood in this promising but flawed first novel. From the vantage point of adulthood, Claire Louise and Macy Rose take turns narrating their family history. Like all families, the Richards of Molly's Point, Tex., have their sorrows--the mother is hospitalized after a mental collapse, Macy Rose rushes next door to her grandmother's house every time the yelling starts, a teenage Claire runs away for 10 years. But the causes of their troubles prove difficult to confront. Claire, who remembers parental abuse, exacts her revenge by manipulating those around her, while Macy represses most of her memories and tries to lead an ordinary life in Houston with her husband and sons. When her grandmother's condition worsens, however, Macy begins to act in ways she can neither control nor understand, and is forced to address the truth about her family. While its message is powerful and disturbing, the novel is weakened by its unconvincing first-person narrations. Claire seems two-dimensional--either evil or self-deluded--and Macy's psychological breakthrough, as conveyed in her own words, is entirely too facile. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
Paperback - 378 pages - 978-1-56512-031-0
Ebook - 378 pages - 978-1-56512-722-7
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