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Wildwood Paperback – February 1, 2003
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Long-buried memories of a tragedy in their past silently connect three friends and bring an added dimension to the time-tested theme of the power of female friendship in this vibrant debut novel. After 12-year-old Hannah struggles against the sexual advances of a neighbor and pushes him over a cliff to his death, she and her best friends, Liz and Jeanne, pledge never to reveal what happened. But the secret reverberates throughout each of their lives, causing seemingly unrelated difficulties in their relationships with loved ones. Hannah essentially abandons her own teenagers while volunteering with babies born to crack-addicted mothers. Jeanne subjugates herself to a philandering husband, and Liz persistently puts off commitment until, at 50 and on the verge of an abortion, she comes home to confront her friends and try to exorcise their painful memories. Over one short yet cathartic week, the three gain strength from one another and finally begin to take control of their lives as Campbell perceptively explores the complexities of relationships between different genders and ages in this thoroughly enjoyable read. Deborah Donovan
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One day something unspeakable happens at the creek, which affects the girls forever. Liz desperately wants to tell her parents, but Hannah and Jeanne are adamantly opposed. They ultimately vow to never speak of the day again.
Fast forward forty years. Two of the women returned to their childhood home in Silicon Valley. Liz spends time in Paris, where she meets Gerard. After a long distance relationship, they move to Belize but never marry. Liz, who questioned her parent's love for her, is wary of upsetting the relationship with Gerard by making it official.
When Liz visits Hannah and Jeanne, they reunite as best friends do, but she cannot get Bluegang out her mind. Jeanne is married to a despicable man, and together they own a private school. Hannah has a seemingly happy marriage and two teenage children.
As time passes, Liz sees cracks in Jeanne's marriage and learns that Hannah has an unhealthy obsession with infants. Jeanne's drug of choice is alcohol, and Hannah's is babies. Liz finally admits that she is terrified of commitments.
As expected, the subject of Bluegang arises. The event has impacted their lives, albeit subconsciously. It is the elephant in the room, and Liz is determined to discuss it. Little by little, details of the story emerge. Arguments ensue, but in the end, the bond of friendship prevails and, if anything, grows deeper.
Drusilla Campbell writes knowingly about longstanding friendships among ordinary women. That is the primary reason I liked Wildwood. Having attended a milestone class reunion, I realized yet again the value of good friends, many of whom I had not seen for years. Ms. Campbell perfectly captures the emotions I felt when I saw my best friends.
Wildwood is wonderfully written. The story flows smoothly, and all the characters are well developed. So well developed, in fact, that I had a visceral reaction to Jeanne's disgusting husband and wished for the moment when she found her backbone! Read the book to see if she does.