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In her fourth novel, Kimmel (The Used World; A Girl Named Zippy; etc.) offers a beautifully wrought portrait of the brilliant and psychotic Trace Pennington, a runaway now scraping by in an Indiana farmhouse while completing her final year of college. Trace excels in school despite her abject poverty and seems destined to enter the world of academia. However, Trace is haunted by a disturbing personal history, hinted at via dreams, startling recollections and entries in her journal. Her idiosyncrasies and antisocial behavior intensify as her thoughts are increasingly intruded upon by an abusive past and complicated relationships with her family, and when Trace begins a relationship with the worldly Dr. Jacob Matthias, her inner life rapidly disintegrates into the surreal. Her fierce intelligence remains, and she battles her madness and dark memories by moving in and out of her own imaginings. Kimmel skillfully weaves together Trace's lucid moments and her diminishing sanity, providing a full picture of a troubled woman whose identity, past and present are repeatedly called into question. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.