cover image A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries

A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries

Kaylie Jones. Bantam Books, $19.95 (178pp) ISBN 978-0-553-07017-0

The daughter of James Jones here offers a discerning, brightly written, apparently semiautobiographical bildungsroman. Channe Willis, the daughter of an eminent American novelist and his loving wife, grows up happy and spoiled in Paris. One day, her idyllic bubble is burst when her parents adopt a young French boy her own age, whose foster mother has committed suicide. Jones ( Quite the Other Way ) captures Channe's waspish jealousy of Billy and her protective feelings for him that blossom against her will. A sexually promiscuous loner who is too dependent on her Portuguese nanny, Channe gropes her way through an adolescence whose pain is exacerbated by her father's heart disease and the Willises' return to America when Channe and Billy are 15. Although it explores Billy's sexually repressed birth mother's motives for giving him up for adoption, this novel is, above all, an elegy to a father-daughter bond that transcends death. Channe's father is almost too good to be true: he celebrates with Channe her first menstrual period, lets her high school boyfriend sleep with her under the Willis roof, and turns Channe on to literature (``My father told me about the souls of books, how they came out of the writer whole, like babies with their own separate souls''). (July)