cover image Prized Possessions

Prized Possessions

Avery Corman. Simon & Schuster, $19.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-69298-8

In previous novels ( 50 ; Kramer vs. Kramer ), Corman has examined families in crisis. In his latest book, he tackles the subject again, exploring the highly charged issue of date rape. Elizabeth Mason, her Manhattan family's ``prized possession,'' is a dedicated student and talented singer, who wins acceptance into Layton, a top liberal arts college near Albany, N.Y. With all her parents' hopes pinned on her, Liz goes off to Layton where, on the first weekend of her freshman year, she is asked to a party by senior Jimmy Andrews, star of the tennis team. They dance, they drink, they kiss. Then he gets her alone and he rapes her. In shock, feeling she is somehow to blame, Liz tells no one. She stops singing. Months later, after finally telling a few friends, she begins the process of healing and at the same time discovers her anger. Liz tells her parents about the rape, and together they decide to press charges, precipitating a campus protest and a backlash against Liz by Jimmy's Animal House-like housemates. Throughout the ordeal, as Liz struggles to reclaim her sense of self-worth, the strains of the case challenge her parents' views of their roles and pull at their marriage. In lean prose that focuses attention on developments in the plot, Corman captures Liz's vulnerability as a naive freshman, her father's randomly directed confusion, and thick-headed Jimmy's bewilderment at having his predatory male prowess called another name. With Liz's story, Corman takes a tense, disturbing look at the nature of consent and raises critical questions about negative ways in which society still views female sexuality. Major ad/promo; movie rights to Sandollar Productions/Warner Bros.; author tour. (Jan.)