In Manfredi's winning 20-something road trip novel, Sam Segretti is fleeing Pittsburgh to get away from his family and sometime girlfriend when he encounters Frannie Swidden, a just-fired waitress at a West Virginia truck stop. She asks him for a ride out of town; they're in love before they reach North Carolina. Obsessed with African myth and mysticism, Frannie is insightful and enigmatic, infusing an otherwise standard boy-meets-girl with a capricious, tormenting lightness. As the story unfurls, and the prospects for love and togetherness become increasingly remote, Manfredi skillfully guides the two through haunting feelings of isolation, anonymity, and the impossibility of eternal happiness. Franni's wild, indefatigable yet softspoken innocence steals the show, giving nuance to the terrors of her and Sam's bruised childhoods. The tenderness of the narrative belies the difficulty of Sam and Franni's lives, and the undercurrent of doom that shadows them to the end.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2006 Release date: 10/01/2006 Genre: Fiction