From Publishers Weekly
After examining the lives of children in his well-received short story collection, Short People
, Furst explores the pains and perils of adolescence in this first novel, with mixed results. Rebellious Cheryl, 15, slips into her Doc Martens one day and runs away from her stifling suburban home. She ends up squatting with a group of dead-end anarchist kids in a seedy section of downtown Minneapolis: music, drugs and sex follow. Furst strives diligently to convey the angst and confusion that go along with a conscientious young person growing up in an avaricious late-stage capitalist environment (the book's pretty explicit about that). There are headlong lyrical passages, but they sometimes collapse in melodrama: It was as though, drilling toward his pain, she'd tapped her own, and now they were bleeding together. Some of the infelicities may be intentional, however, and part of the book's unconventional conceit: Cheryl's mother, who narrates, has been diagnosed with Schizotypal Personality Disorder and seems to have a clairvoyance that allows her to monitor and chronicle her daughter's exploits, which are similar to what she went through around that age. Furst eventually clarifies and reconciles these issues in the end, but the payoff isn't as powerful, or as unexpected, as it needs to be. (Aug.)
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Twenty-five years ago, Julia's life unraveled when her beloved sister was murdered in metropolitan Minnesota. Afterward, she descended into a self-destructive world of sex, violence, and recreational drugs. Now, the suburban mother (who tries to keep things on an even keel with a menu of mood-stabilizing pills) sees history repeating itself when her sullen teenage daughter, Cheryl, runs away from home. In her mind's eye, Julia sees Cheryl keeping company with a cadre of no-good nihilists at one of her decades-old haunts, an abandoned downtown building known as the Sabotage Café. Should Julia rescue her daughter from potential danger or let the young girl's rebellion run its course? Try as he might, Julia's well-meaning but milquetoast husband, Robert, is powerless against the manic, mercurial women in his life. Furst, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, renders more of the piercing, provocative prose that earned critical acclaim for his 2003 short story collection, Short People. But he covers little new ground in this tale of two generations of middle-class lives torn apart. Block, Allison Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved