cover image family


Micol Ostow, Egmont USA, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-60684-155-6

In this novel in verse, based on the Manson Family murders, Ostow (So Punk Rock: And Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother) delivers the harrowing story of 17-year-old Melinda, who flees to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district to escape her sexually abusive "uncle jack." Weak and unstable, Melinda is seduced by Henry, the charismatic leader of a cult, who presides over a group of lost souls on a remote ranch, and she quickly gets in over her head ("i had that sense about Him, overwhelming, enveloping, cloaking:/ He. was. right./ He was inescapable"). When Henry plots a violent mission, no one can refuse to go along. A mix of pared-down poems and more developed paragraphs of text, the form matches the content, which is dark, mesmerizing, and hazy; the only capital letters are in reference to Henry, emphasizing (if a bit blatantly) his godlike power over his followers. The narrative shifts between Melinda's past, present, and bloody future suggest the inevitability of her descent and mirror the steady pull of the tides and undertows she describes as dragging her down. Ages 14–up. (Apr.)