From Publishers Weekly
Packer follows her well-received first novel, The Dive from Clausen's Pier
, with a richly nuanced meditation on the place of friendship in women's lives. Liz and Sarabeth's childhood friendship deepened following Sarabeth's mother's suicide when the girls were 16; now the two women are in their 40s and living in the Bay Area. Responsible mother-of-two Liz has come to see eccentric, bohemian Sarabeth, with her tendency to enter into inappropriate relationships with men, as more like another child than as a sister or mutually supportive friend. When Liz's teenage daughter, Lauren, perpetuates a crisis, Liz doubts her parenting abilities; Sarabeth is plunged into uncomfortable memories; and the hidden fragilities of what seemed a steadfast relationship come to the fore. Packer adroitly navigates Lauren's teen despair, Sarabeth's lonely longings and Liz's feelings of guilt and inadequacy. Although Liz's husband, Brody, and other men in the book are less than compelling, Packer gets deep into the perspectives of Liz, Sarabeth and Lauren, and follows out their conflicts with an unsentimental sympathy. (Sept.)
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Ann Packer stunned critics with her debut novel, the acclaimed Dive From Clausen's Pier
inevitably raised comparisons to this first novel's exploration of how crises of untold proportions test love and lead to guilt, despair, and morally ambiguous actions. Critics agreed that Packer deftly unravels the emotional intensity that accompanies the love between two adult friends and offers shrewd insight into human behavior. However, Songs
didn't garner quite the same praise as Dive
. A few critics cited stereotyped male characters, uneven third-person perspectives, and a predictable story line that gets bogged down in quotidian details. All reviewers, however, praised the characterization of Lauren-and her all-too-real teen anguish.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.