cover image The Last April Dancers

The Last April Dancers

Jean Thesman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $13.95 (206pp) ISBN 978-0-395-43024-8

Cat St. John is painfully aware of her father's odd behavior. She takes it on herself to watch over her father, since her aloof mother and difficult grandmother seem determined to ignore his problems. On Cat's 16th birthday, her father kills himself, leaving Cat struggling to make sense of his life and death. Her involvement with Cameron, the boy next door, provides a poignantly romantic counterpoint to this somber exploration of family life. Though Cat's mother and grandmother are one-dimensional at the novel's start, as Cat learns more about them, they become easier for readers to sympathize with, if not to like. This powerful, disturbing novel is not for those who want easy answers. A difficult subject is handled with much tact and grace; the terse, elegant language rings terribly true. Ages 12-up. (October)