Past and present mysteries converge in a revelation too painful, and too shocking, for Merilee Graf to accept. In a sudden act of reckless courage, she frees herself of the terrifying obsessions of the past.
Kelly (Take Me, Take Me with You), a pseudonymous "best-selling and award-winning author," serves up a studiously stylized novel about sex, abuse and grief that's oddly compelling while also being overwrought and exasperatingly repetitive. Narrated by Merilee Graf, the 26-year-old only child of a successful importer of exotic goods in Mount Olive, N.Y., the story flashes back and forth between Merilee's hazy recollections of the past (when she was 10, her "colored" fifth-grade classmate Lilac Jimson vanished) and the present (Merilee returns home to attend to her dying father). Lilac's disappearance disturbs Merilee anew when she bumps into Lilac's older brother, Roosevelt, in the hospital; Roosevelt had been the recipient of a Police Academy scholarship donated by Merilee's father as well as a brief high school obsession of Merilee's. Later, after her father's death, Merilee is hysterical about the loss of a glass heart she'd given him, but entranced by her mysterious Uncle Jedah, her father's right-hand man and now the executor of the estate she's inherited. Readers know some dark and terrible secret connecting Lilac's disappearance and Merilee's father or uncle will be uncovered, but Merilee's such an ineffectual person it's hard to imagine she'll figure out what she needs to in time. Bottom line: overheated and creepy. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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June 13, 2006
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Excerpt from The Stolen Heart by Lauren Kelly
She'd been taken it was said.
Not said aloud! Not in our hearing.
But if you listened. If you listened hard. If you listened past the scared sound of your heart beating. That low rumbling sound like thunder. Taken!
A girl had been taken. From Highlands Park. I knew where that was. I knew who the girl was. We were not supposed to know, yet. We were too young to know. We were very quiet, we did not want to be taken, too. The girl who'd been taken had not been a quiet girl but giggly and squirmy and unpredictable in her behavior. I saw a giant bird descending from the sky to punish her. I saw the sky darken with the giant bird's outspread wings and bared talons and I saw Lilac Jimson seized in those talons and lifted screaming into the sky.
It was May 1988. I was ten years old. I was in fifth grade at Thomas Jefferson Elementary. I was not a close friend of Lilac Jimson. I saw Lilac running with her brother Roosevelt after school. Roosevelt was older than Lilac, and taller. And Lilac was a year older than me but not taller. Different cleaning ladies came to our house on Lincoln Avenue and one of them used to be Lilac's mother who was called Alina and who spoke in a strange way, it was hard to understand. When someone said That little gypsy-looking girl it was Lilac Jimson they meant. That little colored girl with the tooth. Because Lilac had a gold tooth that flashed when she smiled. Lilac had tight-braided dark hair and skin like creamy cocoa and beautiful sparkly-black eyes. I wanted to be Lilac Jimson's friend but there was some strangeness between us, Lilac laughed and smiled at everybody but not at me. Lilac's sparkly eyes just jumped over me like I wasn't there. I was hurt, I didn't understand. Maybe it had to do with Lilac's mother who'd used to clean our house but now another woman, a black woman, cleaned our house. Maybe Lilac's mother had told her not to like me because I was Mr. Graf 's daughter and because I lived in that big cobblestone house on Lincoln Avenue with all the trees. I wanted to invite Lilac home with me but I knew that Lilac would laugh and turn away without hearing me. Lilac was so pretty! -- the only girl who could climb the ropes in gym class, like a little monkey, to the ceiling. Lilac was the first girl at Thomas Jefferson Elementary to get pierced ears, when she was ten. Lilac was a girl to be scolded for being wiggly in her desk but our teacher laughed saying this, you could see Miss Hansen liked Lilac Jimson. But now suddenly Lilac Jimson was That poor little girl who was taken from the park nobody knows where maybe in the river the latest is police are questioning her own father isn't that tragic.