cover image The Between

The Between

Tananarive Due. HarperCollins Publishers, $22 (274pp) ISBN 978-0-06-017250-3

Although set largely in the black and Hispanic communities of Florida's Dade County, Due's first novel, a skillful blend of horror and the supernatural, poses questions about life and identity that transcend racial boundaries. Thirty years after he was saved from drowning by the beloved grandmother who died in his place, Hilton James has built a secure middle-class life for his African American family and saved a few lives himself through his social work in Miami's inner city. His comfortable existence is shattered when his wife, a judge, begins receiving racist death threats and he starts having nightmares of alternate life experiences so authentic that they begin to loosen his grip on reality. Is Hilton a latent schizophrenic, as his therapist thinks? Or are the dreams and death threats both signs of a cosmic scheme in which Hilton is meant to accept the death that he eluded before? The mystical explanation Due posits for Hilton's predicament, involving ``travelers,'' or persons who unconsciously use dreams as ``doorways'' to elude fate and live in ``the between'' world, is not nearly as disturbing as her depiction of Hilton's gradual decline from caring husband and father to a man who lashes out in frustration against those he loves. Her sympathetic and credible portrait of Hilton as a man discomposed by his encounter with the unknown compensates for the novel's underdeveloped supporting cast. Due also subtly suggests the horrifying thought that pervades the story but is left tactfully unspoken: if each of us creates our own reality, then ultimately we are all alone in the world. $25,000 ad/ promo; author tour. U.K. and translation rights, HarperCollins; other rights, Marie Brown Associates. (May)