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Novack's lyrical and finely crafted first novel is set in a small, idyllic Pennsylvania town circa 1978 and charts the crumbling of two families. At the center of the novel is the Kisch family, sisters Sissy and Eva and parents Frank and Natalia. Nine-year-old Sissy is introverted and impressionable, while older Eva is having an affair with Peter, her high school English teacher. Her parents' marriage, too, is rapidly deteriorating, and soon Natalia takes off for Italy with her lover, leaving Frank to try to deal with the remnants of their family. A few houses away, 10-year-old Vicki Anderson (whose relationship to Sissy is troubled), has gone missing, leaving her mother, Ginny, panicked and grief-stricken. Unhappiness, it seems, dwells everywhere, though there may be a dash of hard-won hope as Natalia returns home and the Kisches recalibrate. Ginny, meanwhile, fails to receive any good news about her missing daughter. The graceful prose and bleak atmosphere underscore the loneliness of each character. Novack takes the massive distance between friends, husbands and wives, and makes it her home. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.