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SAMARA THE WHOLEHEARTED

Bauer, Nancy
Fredericton (N.B.), Goose Lane Editions, 1991. 163pp, paper, $14.95, ISBN 0-86492-103-9. CIP


Grades 11 and up/ Ages 16 and up

Reviewed by Pat Bolger

Volume 20 Number 4
1992 September


Marty, like Stephen Hawking, a genius and victim of a progressive disease that has robbed her of physical strength and intelligible speech, and Ron, the younger man who interprets for her and cares for her physical needs; Fred, seeking an explanation for his terrifying visions from the father who never knew him; Raisa and Yuri, refugees from brutal mistreatment in Russia all come to Conway Bellmont's summer institute in New Brunswick. And although twenty-year-old Samara has come unwillingly for one last summer to her parents' institute, she is immediately caught up in their suffering.

There are so many dramatic events: Fred's terrors and death, horrible revelations about Raisa's past, a seizure that almost kills Marty. Samara's awakening spiritual gifts bind her to these people and she transfers to the University of Minnesota to live in an extended family with Marty and Ron, Raisa and Yuri, and Fred's two orphaned children.

Although the rapid succession of events retains the reader's interest, the weight of the plot is almost enough to founder a brief novel. Another problem lies in the number of characters mentioned who play no real part in the plot more than a dozen in the first five pages. (This may arise from the fact that this is the third novel in a trilogy.)

Some young women may be interested in Marty or in the selfless Samara, although her character lacks much complexity; others may be intrigued by the institute and its stress on spiritual development. The beautifully drawn New Brunswick setting would appeal to Maritimers. A novel for a limited audience.


Pat Bolger is a retired high school librarian in Renfrew, Ontario.

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