Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Good parents give their children Roots and Wings."

Cam Lightsey gave up her hippy chick counter-culture house in Sycamore Heights to raise her daughter in the staid, but educationally superior Parkhaven neighborhood. It was just one of the many sacrifices that she would make for Aubrey, but it was certainly worth it to know that her little girl would finally escape to college in a few days. Cam was all that Aubrey had for parents, as her father left the family to become a "Nextarian" (read Scientologist) when their daughter turned two. Still he managed to finagle a trust fund from the Nextarians that would at least cover her first year at a very good school, if only she would go to the bank with her mother to claim it.

Aubrey, a seventeen year old band geek was a good student, an obedient daughter, and a girl totally sick of her programmed boring life. Forced to march out on the hot field by her band teacher, she first faints then throws up on the school star quarterback. Miraculously they begin a friendly relationship that morphes into something else, radically changing her life and goals, much to her mother's dismay.

The Gap Year, by Sarah Bird, alternates between Cam and Aubrey's voices, each telling the same story with radically different views. Exploring the mother-daughter relationship with skill and compassion, Bird examines the pain of letting go and the struggles to find oneself and begin an independent life.

I must confess that Ms. Bird wrote one of my all-time favorite books, The Mommy Club, in the early nineties. The Gap Year has the same quirky romantic quality to it, combined with the poignancy of growing up, both on the child and the adult levels. This is a very satisfying read.