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Bright Angel Time (1997)

by Martha McPhee

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1082194,043 (3.08)14
Set in the early 1970s, this magical first novel by National Book Award finalist Martha McPhee marked not only the introduction of the Furey-Cooper family of Gorgeous Lies, but also the auspicious debut of a stunning literary talent. Meet eight-year-old Kate and her sisters as they take to a life on the road when their divorced mother falls in love with someone new. This strange freedom introduces the girls to a way of life that is vastly different from the one they knew with their geologist father. But, far from him, adult distraction and carelessness finally threaten to explode and ruin Kate's life. Rich in character, imagery, and humor, Bright Angel Time is a brilliant and moving novel from an authentic, critically acclaimed new voice.… (more)
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In poetic, lyrical prose, Martha McPhee tells the story of three young girls, Kate, Julia and Jane, who are uprooted from their home and taken on a road trip around the southwestern US when their dad dumps their mom for another woman and Mom hooks up with quasi-hippie-guru Anton and his 5 kids, plus a couple of hitchhikers. 8-year-old Kate is the main focus of the story; understanding things far beyond her years, she relates acid trips and geological information with equal accuracy. The setting is the late 60's or early 70's and all the kids drink alcohol and smoke marijuana regularly. Information about Kate's former life with both parents and the white-picket-fence-like environment of her first seven years is revealed in small sections throughout the text.
Except for Kate, most of the characters remain one-dimensional and mostly static. Anton is the most well-drawn, and comes off as an irresponsible, power-hungry, probable pedophile and definite abuser. Jane, Kate's eldest sister, is the most dynamic, and causes most of the tonal shifts in the family's adventure. The girls' mother, whose name I can't even remember despite finishing the book rather recently, is mostly painted as a victim and a co-dependant, allowing her children to be put in dangerous circumstances and for the most part care for themselves so that she can experience some adventure and romanticism.
The novel ends on a (literal) cliff-hanger, which greatly reduced my enjoyment of it. Books with ambiguous or incomplete endings are one of my pet peeves. Also, the author sometimes comes across as trying to hard to be poetic in her creativity with similes and metaphors. ( )
  EmScape | Apr 9, 2014 |
This was beautifully written and had great believable characters, but was a bit slow in parts. It follows the early childhood of a girl and her siblings travelling with her bohemian mother. We get to see the love between famliy members even through their flaws as they encounter many interesting characters along the way. ( )
1 vote klarsenmd | Sep 14, 2007 |
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Erosion They are small and falt, riverbed stones that can hardly believe the long journey, the grand lapidary of wind and water, has led them, finally, to a snug fit in the soft delta of the palm, to be rubbed and rubbed again in the recesses of the pocket. They are unlikely companions, one polished, the product of some refinement, tear-shaped and, it seems, a bit frail, the other, an earnest little piece of a mountain, cut and tumbled from the scree one day, a rock nouveau, a rock's rock. There is justice in the world, and the rocks are quite prepared to ride it out in this bag of notions, forever amongst car keys, chapstick, an occasional ticket stub- because if it weren't here, it would be as it is elsewhere: the world grinding itself to dust. - Mark Svenold
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For Mark and for Pryde and John
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Mom learned to fall backward into the arms of strangers without hesitating or looking over her shoulder.
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Set in the early 1970s, this magical first novel by National Book Award finalist Martha McPhee marked not only the introduction of the Furey-Cooper family of Gorgeous Lies, but also the auspicious debut of a stunning literary talent. Meet eight-year-old Kate and her sisters as they take to a life on the road when their divorced mother falls in love with someone new. This strange freedom introduces the girls to a way of life that is vastly different from the one they knew with their geologist father. But, far from him, adult distraction and carelessness finally threaten to explode and ruin Kate's life. Rich in character, imagery, and humor, Bright Angel Time is a brilliant and moving novel from an authentic, critically acclaimed new voice.

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Set in the early 1970s. Meet eight-year-old Kate and her sisters as they take to a life on the road when their divorced mother falls in love with someone new. This strange freedom introduces the girls to a way of life that is vastly different from the one they knew with their geologist father. But, far from him, adult distraction and carelessness finally threaten to explode and run Kate's life. (0-15-602934-0)
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