Deborah Robertson, Author . MacAdam/Cage $23 (300p) ISBN 978-1-59692-275-4 ISBN 978-1-59692-276-1

In the bleak first novel from Australian Robertson (following the 1998 story collection Proudflesh ), Pearl, at eight, already exerts a self-punishing precision on a world she cannot control. When her younger brother, Riley, whom Pearl's aloof single mother, Lily, charged Pearl with caring for, is mowed down (along with several other children) by a madman's car, Lily tries to peddle Pearl's grief to the media. She then gets involved with Adam, an artist who has created a scandal by making and showing a body cast of a dead teenage heroin addict. With Adam up for the design of the memorial to honor the children slain with her son, Lily morbidly attempts to secure his affection. A sideline follows Sonia, a recent widow of a famous woodcarver and furniture maker, from whom Adam rents studio space. Pearl, meanwhile, to deal with her grief and keep chaos at bay, draws Frank Lloyd Wright's house Fallingwater over and over again. Marked by lyrical prose, credible characters and some artful links between the several story lines, the novel stays too close to numb Pearl and calculating Lily and comes off as emotionally flat and chilly. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 09/24/2007
Release date: 02/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 300 pages - 978-1-59692-275-4
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