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Publishers WeeklyTen connected stories from Cliff (Everything is Now) pursue the coming-of-age of an unnamed, Jamaican-born young woman finding her way from New York to London. Born to a mixed-raced family with old Victorian roots whose affluence is clearly dwindling, the girl of "Points of Departure" learns by age 10 how to "retreat" from great-grandmotherly admonitions for her own self-preservation. After the death of her depressed mother, and estranged from her distant, philandering father, the narrator comes by a "sense of things unexpectedly" in a Christian boarding school, and, while en route to graduate school in England in "Below the Waterline," she has a momentous lesbian encounter with Bex, who tells a ghastly tale of being attacked by hateful sorority sisters. In "Marooned," the narrator moves somewhat awkwardly among her student colleagues, gradually becoming politicized, especially by the anti-apartheid movement. Finally, the last two tales find a poignant convergence of the narrator's life and those who struggled before her. By rending the membrane between past and present, Cliff finds serene closure to these subtle, cautiously fashioned tales.
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