cover image The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs

The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs

Jack Gantos, . . FSG, $17 (185pp) ISBN 978-0-374-33690-5

Are personalities determined by genes or by environment? Is it possible to love one's mother too much? Is there really such a thing as free will? Can curses be passed down from one generation to the next? These are some of the questions raised in Gantos's (Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key ) black comedy in which teenager Ivy Spirco makes some disturbing discoveries about her heritage. The elderly Rumbaugh twins, two identical men who run the pharmacy where Ivy's mother used to work, have fascinated Ivy since she was a girl. It comes as quite a shock to her when on her 16th birthday Ivy learns that one of the twins—either Adolph or Abner—is her biological father. Even more unnerving to her is the possibility that she may have inherited the "Rumbaugh curse"—obsessive mother love. Ivy would be the first to admit that she deeply adores her mother, but will she follow in the twins' footsteps, attempting to preserve her mother's body for all eternity? Geared for a sophisticated audience familiar with the gothic genre, this offbeat novel, reflecting elements of Psycho and Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," draws readers into a macabre world where taboos are lifted and unconventional desires unleashed. Unfortunately, the philosophical points made by the author are far less vivid and memorable as the image of old Mrs. Raumbaugh's dried-up corpse, painstakingly immortalized by her twin sons. Ages 12-up. (May)