cover image Rima in the Weeds

Rima in the Weeds

Deirdre McNamer. HarperCollins Publishers, $19.95 (313pp) ISBN 978-0-06-016523-9

This lyrical first novel provides several perceptions of ``home'': one woman has returned there against her will; a child, though rebellious, still finds needed security in her family; another adult is intellectually but not emotionally prepared to escape. Dorrie, a 21-year-old unwed mother abandoned by her lover, leaves Chicago in 1963 for her home in Madrid, Mont., a prairie town with a missile base as its claim to fame. She is disturbed by her ultra-right-wing father, haunted by memories of her mother's insanity and frustrated by her fussy new son, Sam; her private torment captivates Margaret, the alienated fifth-grader who is Sam's baby-sitter. Dorrie becomes a waitress at the faltering Bull's Eye restaurant, where she meets bouffant-crowned Gloria, a Madrid native who longs to attend business school but fears anonymity in a large city. References to loaded guns and the ominous presence of the missiles portray the precarious balance within the human mind--heavy symbolism notwithstanding, McNamer's accurately depicts both childhood and adulthood in the sheltering yet stifling atmosphere of small-town America. 25,000 first printing; $30,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Feb.)