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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Skylight Confessions by Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman, in her usual manner of storytelling, weaves a haunting tale spanning three generations of one family. This is, more than anything, a story that explores the idea of destiny and asks questions about love along the way. It starts with the totally mismatched Arlyn Singer and John Moody starting a family after a fateful night. In Arlyn’s mind the night was destiny, and in John’s mind, it was a mysterious and confusing one night stand. They are opposites who cannot understand each other, but are drawn to one another even when it is obvious they are bound to bring each other grief. Their marriage begins with the birth of their son, Sam. Sam is an odd child completely devoted to his mother and her mythical stories of a tribe of people from Connecticut who can fly. John, on the other hand, throws himself into his career and goes out of his way to avoid his wife and son. Years pass, and ironically, Arlyn falls passionately in love with George Snow. When she first sees George, he looks as if he has wings and is flying off of her roof. Their passion produces another child for Arlyn, but before her daughter is born, she breaks off the affair and John Moody is lead to believe that the daughter is his child. By the time Blanca is born, Sam is well on his way to self-destruction, and then tragedy strikes * Arlyn is diagnosed with breast cancer. The tale is mesmerizing and the characters, while very much flawed, are the type of people you root for and want good things for. A central character is the family's home, an architectural showplace called the Glass Slipper, which comes to represent the couple's scarred marriage and failings, the children’s emotional destinies, and the ironic fact that, despite living in a house made almost entirely of glass, the Moodys are a family who never really see each other --- until it's too late. Glass breaks, love hurts, and families make their own rules. SKYLIGHT CONFESSIONS is a story of spectral reality that feels completely grounded, with characters so touching and authentic, they got right under my skin and have stayed with me. I would recommend this book to anyone who is capable of setting aside disbelief and who likes to be drawn into another world for a short time. - Jennifer Meador