Monday, July 24, 2006

On a Night Like This

Ellen Sussman

This is a surprisingly gentle novel about death, loss, and love. Blair Clemens, mother of sixteen-year-old Amanda, has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Instead of using this as a descent into sorrow, Sussman uses this premise to show how second chances are never too late. The relationship between the mother and daughter is very realistic, including the absolute love broken by sullen silences. Complicating the issue is Luke Bellingham, a high school classmate who tracks down the "lost soul" who inspired his Academy Award-winning screenplay, and whose younger wife has recently left him. (Her actions, when she is drawn into the story, show how truly juvenile she is, and how much growing up she has yet to do.)

Blair and Luke feel an attraction toward one another, an attraction they are afraid to deal with in the face of death and confusion. The novel follows them as they attempt to find a way to have a happy ending, something that they feel is impossible, but which the novel somehow makes plausible.


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