Wednesday, September 7, 2011


All families may not be psychotic, but the one in this book certainly is. Janet is 65 years old and close to her two messed-up sons, Wade and Bryan, but distant from her well-adjusted astronaut daughter, Sarah. Janet took thalidomide while pregnant with Sarah, and consequently Sarah was born with only one hand. The assorted family members, including Janet's ex-husband Ted and his trophy wife Nickie, have congregated in Florida for Sarah's first launch into space. The men become involved in a disastrous caper to sell the letter that Prince William left on his mother's casket to a shady Bahamian. Meanwhile, Bryan's girlfriend Shw (that's right—no vowels), Janet, and Nickie all witness a restaurant holdup, and, in the process, discover that Shw is selling her and Bryan's unborn baby. This would all be pretty funny if it weren't for the fact that Janet, Nickie, and Wade are HIV-positive. Wade infected both women—his stepmother Nickie in the usual way and his mother accidentally when a bullet, fired by his father, passed through him on its way to Janet. Either the author has stepped over a line here in writing a whimsical novel about people with a serious disease, or he has buried a message somewhere. I realized at the end of the novel that HIV for these characters is another word for nothing left to lose.

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