As she did with White Oleander, Fitch has given us a courageous and interesting young woman who handles the bad cards she has been dealt with grace and resolve. No one, not even Cinderella, knows better than Josie Tyrell that life isn't fair -- and no one, despite some very long odds, seems more likely to transcend the role of victim and succeed with or without her fairy-tale prince.
The Washington Post
Beauty and its pretenders prowl around the edges of Fitch's long-awaited second novel. Just as she did so masterfully in White Oleander, Fitch portrays the world of a young woman who is searching for a way to live after being dealt an incredibly lousy hand. Opting for the antithesis of beauty, Josie Tyrell exists within the punk club scene of 1980s Los Angeles, and, unfortunately, she finds familiar terrain in that subculture's harshness and brutal sexuality. Not until she meets Michael Faraday, a child of affluence and privilege, does Josie know that there is such a thing as true beauty in the world. He teaches her about the beauty of the night sky; of music, art, and poetry. But his obsession becomes his undoing as he cannot find enough of this transcendent beauty to protect him from his demons. Giving in to the inescapable lure of his family's ghosts, he commits suicide. Michael was the sole source of light for Josie and his tortured, tortuous mother: now both women engage in a dangerous struggle to survive in a world of darkness. As Josie unravels the story of Michael's despair, she becomes able to move from self-destruction to self-determination. Suspenseful, compelling, and superbly crafted, this work shows Fitch once again taking the art of writing to its highest level. Highly recommended for all contemporary fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/06.]-Susanne Wells, P.L. of Cincinnati and Hamilton Cty. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Bereavement, alienation and survivor's anger are the legacy bequeathed to the stunned protagonist of Californian Fitch's somber second novel. Josie Tyrell is a 20-year-old artist's model, sometime-actress and substance-abuser whose already chaotic life in L.A.'s underground artistic environs is further unsettled when she's notified that her boyfriend, Michael Faraday, has killed himself in a rundown motel. As she did in her Oprah-selected White Oleander (1999), Fitch structures this as a contest between two determined women: embittered Josie (who's intent on learning why her rapturous life with Michael, a struggling artist, wasn't enough for him), and Michael's mother, Meredith Loewy, a celebrated concert pianist and smothering matriarch whose attitude toward Josie vacillates between homicidal resentment and almost sisterly empathy. This backward-and-forward momentum at least varies Fitch's numbing concentration on Josie's emotional outrage, as does a subplot involving an independent movie in production (whose cluelessly smug director envisions it as "Bergman meets Hitchcock in Antonioni's unmade bed"), a preening sex machine who calls himself Nick Nitro and a handsome young actor who worms his way into Josie's bed without ever eliciting a response from her. But the changing relationship of Meredith and Josie is central, and the story almost catches fire as Fitch peels away successive layers of pretense to reveal each woman's hidden story (Meredith's history of losing other loved ones before Michael, Josie's uncomfortable memories of her white-trash family and sexually threatening older brother). Yet it wallows in self-pity and indignation, even in the climactic pages, where Josiebelieves she knows Meredith's real secret, returns to that motel and acknowledges the truth about Michael, which she has unsuccessfully repressed: "He loved me, but he hated himself more."Vivid writing here and there, but Josie is a dull character, and the story is a real downer.