Thursday, July 17, 2008

How Far Is the Ocean from Here-Amy Shearn

How Far Is the Ocean from Here
Amy Shearn
Shaye Areheart (Crown), Jul 2008, $23.00
ISBN: 0307405346

Susannah Prue agreed to serve as a surrogate mother to wealthy Kit and Julian Forsythe, but in the trimester of her pregnancy, she changes her mind and flees. Now "hugely pregnant" Susannah takes refuge at the dilapidated Thunder Lodge motel owned by the elderly Garlands who generally know why a big pregnant big city girl chooses to fall of the map and be buried on the Texas-New Mexico desert.

Susannah finds the other guests and the owner Marlan, who calls her Susie Q, and his family as desperate to hide from the world or at least someone like she is. She makes friends with the owners' mentally impaired teenage son Tim and Alabamian Dicey and her niece Frank. Now Susannah is going to give birth any day, but has no idea what to do about her child, but knows what she does not desire, the disinterested Forsythe couple raising her baby.

The residents of Thunder Lodge are a terrific fully developed eccentric group who forge a family of sorts; on the other hand Kit and Julian are stereotypes of the idle rich with no purpose in life except hedonism. Julian sums it up when he suggests to Kit they should redecorate their home instead of raising a child while Susannah is already carrying. . Still this is a profound character study focusing on the human need for love and belonging with others by answering the deep philosophical title question.

Harriet Klausner

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