cover image Anomaly


Anne Fleming, . . Raincoast, $24.95 (477pp) ISBN 978-1-55192-831-9

Sisters Carol and Glynnis Riggs are as different as two girls can be: at age seven, Glynnis is a confident wisecracker, while eight-year-old Carol—an albino—conceals her outcast frustration behind a pudgy, teary, clumsy exterior. Her anger peaks one day, and she causes an accident that crushes her younger sister's leg. Now the sisters, both anomalies, must find ways to negotiate their fraught relationship as they suffer through their adolescence in mid-1970s Canada. Carol dyes her hair black, becomes death-obsessed and takes up with a punk rocker, while Glynnis contends with her permanently disabled leg and nascent lesbian feelings. Sections focusing on the girls' mother, Rowena, and her growing interest in the ministry are less compelling, as are those devoted to an elderly neighbor's memories of serving as a nurse during WWI. However, Fleming (Pool-Hopping and Other Stories ) charts the sisters' progress with a sharp ear for the thoughts, language and cruelties of children and teens: there's nothing precious about these growing pains, and the two central characters are exquisitely drawn. (Sept.)