cover image Lucy Peale

Lucy Peale

Colby F. Rodowsky. Farrar Straus Giroux, $15 (167pp) ISBN 978-0-374-36381-9

Pregnant as the result of a secret rape, Lucy, 17, is faced with a choice: either publicly confess her ``sin'' at her fundamentalist father's tent meeting or be outcast from the family. Knowing that her baby is ``no bad thing,'' Lucy flees to nearby Ocean City, Md., where she meets Jake, a would-be writer, who lets her stay at his apartment. As Jake feeds her mind with books, movies and music and her spirit is nourished with the concept of a forgiving God, Lucy learns that ``Sin City'' and the rest of the world that her father condemned isn't such a wicked place after all. With Jake's encouragement, Lucy grows more self-reliant--her plans for the future include Jake, since the couple realize they love each other. In a deft plot twist that keeps the book focused on emotional rather than sexual issues, they agree not to consummate their love until after the baby is born--and after the gratified reader knows that Lucy is mature enough to handle whatever comes along. The only jarring note in Rodowsky's ( Dog Days ; Sydney, Herself ) sweetly moving and otherwise skillful novel is the narrative's occasional inexplicable shift to the first person, a disruption with no appreciable merit. Ages 12-up. (May)