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Kristin Mellors (a.k.a. "Kissy Melons," for an obvious physical attribute) starts out the novel by almost killing two fellow students at Sowerwine College. Her car doesn't hit them, but soon after a vehicle driven by a drunk premed student does. One girl dies, the other falls into a coma. Kissy's relationship with the girl in a coma, Ruth Prashker, will haunt her for the rest of the story, as will her involvement with the drunk driver. An aspiring photographer, Kissy is a member of the college's black-clad artsy set, so it's a surprise when she takes up with the star of the school hockey team, Junior Clootie. But if sex is any indication (and it is the principal indication of practically everything here), the two are made for each other. Clootie is bound for the pros, but Kissy's future is less clear. Will she establish her independence from her past, or will the survivors of the accident she witnessed continue to dog her existence? Clootie truly loves her, but he's basically an amiable screw-up. Some ill-advised whoring lands both him and Kissy with the clap and sets a pattern: Clootie will always be trouble, and Kissy will always have trouble staying away. A bizarre tryst with the drunk driver/premed student leaves Kissy pregnant, and she marries Clootie, giving birth to a baby girl. Their marriage goes almost immediately to pieces, though, thanks largely to Clootie's indiscretions and nomadic lifestyle. The author's decision to tack on a conventional thriller ending is questionable, but it scarcely dilutes the impact of this rough-and-tumble, exceedingly realistic, and metaphorically resonant lurch through damaged lives.
A novel of great insight and empathy, filled with believable, troubled, complex characters.
Posted December 11, 2001
Tabitha King is talented enough to have brought her characters vividly to life in this novel. Kissy Mellors can be said to represent the attitudes that many women today hold toward men and relationships. She is anything but a heroine. My main reservation about this book is uncertainty as to what Ms. King was attempting to say about her. I would worry about anyone who finds Kissy to be a worthy role model for anything--except perhaps photography. There are many things the novel leaves unsaid about her, but the implications are rather plain. The depiction of the brief encounter with her father in adulthood explains much of her motivation for the way she treats the men in her life. But one is tempted to take Kissy by the shoulders, give her a shake, and say 'Snap out of it!' She is drawn irresistibly to men, propelled by sexual compulsion, but once the libido abates and the men display any sort of human characteristics, her defenses go up and she's ready for war. She eats men for breakfast, lunch, dinner and between-meal snacks, but none of it provokes sympathy in the reader for her. Who is indicated by the title? One can only assume it is Junior, who appears to grow, at least minutely, as the pages turn. Much more than can be said for Kissy. Mike is better off where he ultimately lands. The survivor could also be James--his final disposition is uncertain as the story concludes, but she got the poor loser back into her sights as soon as he emerged from prison. The reader worries about James. Will there be a sequel, so we can find out? Read the novel for entertainment--but not for inspiration.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 10, 2001