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Ford's newest is a Southern coming-of-age involving an estranged twin waking to sexuality and love. Eleven-year-old Blaze James lives in the shadow of her twin sister, Aerial, until a gas explosion leaves Aerial horribly scarred. While her sister recovers, Blaze spends a formative year in the care of a neighbor, Felicity Hardaway, an exotic (though closeted) lesbian in close-minded Shreveport, La. After years away at school, Blaze returns and begins a passionate affair with Hardaway. Despite the town's condemnation and Hardaway's insistence that she doesn't want to get serious, Blaze is determined to fight for the emotionally abusive relationship. When Hardaway disappears, Blaze turns to next-door neighbor Nate for solace-and, as it turns out, much more. Ford's Shreveport is an unforgiving place-swampy, seductive and judgmental-that's reflected in her blunt but intoxicating prose. Unfortunately, Ford's intriguing story begs for a better protagonist; Blaze is contrary, indecisive and not nearly as smart as she thinks she is, making decisions at whim. Hardaway, on the other hand, is charismatic and flawed, prideful and vulnerable; by the end, one can't help feeling they were following the wrong character. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.