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Make Believe

Make Believe

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Plot

Joanna Scott, much lauded for her 1997 gothic, The Manikin, sloughs that novel's gloom for the less rarified air of familial torment and interracial romance in Make Believe. A compact jostling of flashback, shifting angles, and hallucinatory impression, her fifth novel is held together by 4-year-old Bo, the object of a contentious custody battle after his teenage mother dies in an automobile accident. Through the boy's eyes we see the disorienting kaleidoscope of adult ambition and impotence, as those vying for him try to sort out not only his life, but their own. 'Weep for him,' the narrator adjures, 'if you're susceptible to pity. But don't let your eyes grow so foggy that you miss the subtle transformation taking place, the transformation of pity into something far more powerful than even Bo could have anticipated.'When volatile Jenny Templin falls for Kamon Gilbert, she imagines that bearinghis child will win her both security and love. But Kamon--artistic, yearning, and, much to the displeasure of Jenny's mother and stepfather, black--is killed while Jenny is pregnant, leaving her and the child alone with his sheltering, if overwhelmed, parents. The Gilberts, in turn, seem the obvious choice for guardianship once Bo is orphaned. Jenny's parents, however, struggling with shame and a latent covetousness, win custody of the spirited Bo, casting both families into degrees of disarray.Bo is the eye of the hurricane throughout. 'Think of all he'd been through, all the waiting, his daddy no more than letters carved in stone, his mama gone off somewhere, his grandparents scared away by the law.' Predictably, his life with Jenny's parents--who refuse, even, to call him Bo--is trying. Scott tells the story in deliberate, even tones, frequently cataloging the broad and disparate panorama of Bo's horizon. What she uncovers is a world where no one is entirely devoid of selfish motivation, where love can be equal parts affection and, sadly, make-believe. --Ben Guterson

Book Details

Author Joanna Scott
Publication Year 2001
Publisher Little, Brown and Company
Format Paperback
ISBN 9780316776660
Number of Pages 272
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