cover image Gardenias


Faith Sullivan. Milkweed Editions, $24.95 (381pp) ISBN 978-1-57131-045-3

Abandoning Depression-ravaged Minnesota and the alcoholic husband who drank away the family savings, Arlene Erhardt moves to California in early 1942 in search of a new life, bringing along her sister Betty and daughter Lark, the too-precocious narrator of this tale of independence, loyalty, hope and crushed dreams. The Erhardts land in a San Diego housing project, where Lark is left alone to sort out her new world while Betty and Arlene work. Though Lark makes a less than credible nine-year old (her habit of reading a dictionary notwithstanding), she endears herself to the reader through her innocence and curiosity.