“the sun-color got too bright and too inside from The Way the Family Got Away lions of her family keep their counterparts alive, or kill them: She believes her little brother became sick because she left her baby doll in the sun. Hers is a tenuous hold on life. She seems haunted by a sense of impending death, as if she and her surviving brother haven’t gotten big enough to escape it. At the same time, she doesn’t see death as final, as if her dead brother might still come back to life: We were still little and going and living inside our housecar where thy little brother’s room was inside the trunk where he slept inside the toy box for a crib. He shared his room with Poppa’s tools and one more tire for when another one of the tires rolls out of breath. But we didn’t have one more of my little bother to put anymore air inside him so don’t let him get worn out or holes so the people leaks out qf him or the skin wears down to too thin and goes to see-through angelskin. Her doll family mirrors the ideal family her parents try to reclaim by driving across the country. Neither holds together, as is painfully revealed when her dolls are sold to another young girl. She responds by attacking the new owner, but her description of the event is disorienting, her fury withheld. By the next chapter, she is already bonding with her new dolls, which she cuts out of paper. This brings us to the novel’s potential drawback. Kimball has an unmistakable appetite for misfortunedeath, miscarriage, abductionsand by placing the novel in the minds of two young children, he refuses to strike emotional chords that some readers might wish were struck. We read that at the younger brother’s funeral, “This man from Brownland told my sister and me that neither one of us was the dead one so we shouldn’t cry anymore,” but we don’t read what it’s like to cry, to be sad, to sustain any anger. But in the end, this is what makes the book so distinctive and challenging. Instead of the emotions that typically accompany death and displacement, Kimball fashions a new set of responses to these tragedies, leaving readers to reach their own conclusions. Like the parents in his book, he uproots us, and we are left somewhere strange to try to find our way back again. Michael Millet; a sometime Texan, is an editor at The Village Voice. The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas invites you to A Gala Evening Saturday, February 10, 2001 highlighting Separation of Church & State The John Henry Faulk Civil Libertarians of the Year Annual Awards Keynote Speaker Barry Lynn Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church & State Honoring Douglas Laycock University of Texas School of Law professor, and The “Doe” Family, Santa Fe, Texas, residents and ACLU clients. $50 per person 5:30 p.m. Music & Cash Bar 6:30 p.m. Buffet Dinner & Program Thompson Conference Center Austin, Texas For more information, please call 512/441-0077. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19
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