cover image Exercises of the Heart

Exercises of the Heart

Jan Greenberg. Farrar Straus Giroux, $14 (153pp) ISBN 978-0-374-32237-3

Roxie remembers when her father was alive and her mother whole. That's what makes now so impossibleno father and endless battles with a mother rendered almost mute by a stroke. She envies her friend Gloria Stern and her family, with their penchant for highly dramatic confrontations, because they communicate. And communication, Roxie thinks, is the one thing she and her mother cannot have. Greenberg's characterizations are carefully delineated as she explores, through Roxie, the cracks in the Stern family facade. When boys enter the scene (Tony for Gloria, John for Roxie), they inadvertantly provide Roxie with the chance to see Gloria in a new light and to view her own mother with respect. The gulf between Roxie and her mother is one that can be bridged only by love; they are denied the opportunity to ever ""hash things out.'' That readers know this with no preaching from Roxie and little conversation from her mother is this story's strength. (12-up)