Saturday, October 09, 2010

Glimpse, by Carol Lynch Williams

Hope and Lizzie have always looked out for each other. Hope always figured it was her job to take care of her older sister, but when she finds Lizzie with a shotgun to her head, that illusion shatters. As Hope copes with what has happened and tries to uncover the meaning of her sister's suicidal urges, she is forced to come to terms with the facts of her family's existence and the brutality that lies under it.

Told in taut verse, this 480-page novel is an extraordinarily fast read (I devoured it in a little over two hours). Verse novels, as I have written several times before, are a risky proposition. The good ones can stick with you and suck you in in a way that regular prose cannot. The vast majority of them, however, are trite and sentimental. This novel falls into the former category.

Williams's previous novel (The Chosen One) was a shocking story of polygamy, but this one pulls out more of the stops, showing the brutal life that Hope and Lizzie live in through Hope's halting lyrical voice. One could fault the story for portraying the girls' mother so harmfully that one wonders how any one could love her, but you won't forget the experience of glimpsing Hope's world.

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