December 18, 2006

A Life in Two Halves

Jenna Abbott will always separate her life into two parts: before the wreck, and after. Before the wreck, she lived with her mother, whom she loved but who really could work her nerves. Before the wreck, she lived in New York, and knew where everything was, including her worthless father who had left them. After the wreck, she was left with nothing but a broken body, a face full of scars, and a father who said he wanted her, but who was more likely to shake her when she didn't agree with him. Before the wreck, they were driving over the Tappan Zee bridge, when Jenna saw... something. Something. And reached for the steering wheel. After the wreck, the car met a huge truck head-on and her mother was halfway though the windshield, and they dangled from the bridge by their two back wheels for hours and hours and hours.

She had grabbed the steering wheel. Why had she grabbed the steering wheel?! Jenna is haunted and guilty and afraid. Her father believes her mother almost killed her, but Jenna is convinced otherwise. She cannot connect with anyone and moves farther and farther away from any kind of reality her mother would have condoned. Though she feels inside that she is trapped, Jenna moves with a kind of dumb sureness toward the worst people and worst actions. She is completely out of her element, but then she meets a gorgeous biker boy - who fixes everything.

Well, not quite. But the enigmatic Crow provides an excuse for Jenna to acknowledge herself again and face her fear. After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings and Flew Away, is a somewhat predictable novel but without the fairytale ending that I was expecting. Fans of Joyce Carol Oates will enjoy this latest offering.

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