cover image Kick the Animal Out

Kick the Animal Out

Veronique Ovalde. MacAdam/Cage Publishing, $13 (212pp) ISBN 978-1-59692-232-7

At the heart of Ovalde's fourth novel is 15-year-old Rose, suffering from an unspecified condition that stunts her physical and emotional development and requires her to attend ""the Institute."" When her beloved mother grows increasingly despondent, Rose tries to snap her out of it with a dramatic exit. Upon returning from the hospital, though, Rose finds her mother gone, and her perennially cheerful father humiliated. Certain there is more than domestic dissatisfaction at work, Rose weaves her mother's half-true childhood stories and clues from an elderly neighbor into a morbid but colorful biography, in which her own family is but a brief pause in the romantic sweep of her mother's life. The real world, however, soon intrudes. Rose's real and imagined worlds are filled with rich sensory detail-Rose imagines her mother in a mountain village, where ""beyond the reflected light on the snow there is complete darkness only mottled by the dancing snowflakes, like a spectral storm of miniature meteorites."" Flighty mothers and young narrators of suspect authority are familiar territory, but Ovalde's lyric gifts makes for a seductive story.