Lucia Nevai, Author . Tin House $14.95 (212p) ISBN 978-0-9794198-3-6

Nevai's subtly barbed latest (following Seriously ) portrays the secret agonies of an Iowa girl rescued from neglect by a loving foster family. Born in 1950 to a half-Indian prostitute living in a squatter's shack with a married “evangelist and healer” and his wife, Crane Cavanaugh suffers the disfigurement of her mother's attempted abortion as well as the privations of being unwanted and poor. Along with her devoted older half-siblings, Jima and Little Duck, she manages to scrape by: a kindly developer, Sam Fanelli, who is transforming farmland into postwar suburbia, feeds the children from his lunchbox. Eventually seized by the state, separated from her siblings and farmed out to a childless Methodist couple, Crane's identity changes completely—a change that is the crux of the book's meditation on chance, identity and circumstance. With skillful, wicked irony, Nevai poignantly evokes Crane's desperate childhood and fragile transformation, and creates a cast of sympathetic, memorable grotesques. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2008
Release date: 05/01/2008
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