Skylight Confessions
by Alice Hoffman

Little Brown, 2007. ISBN 100316058785.
Reviewed by Judith Helburn
Posted on 09/12/2007

Fiction: Mainstream

In Skylight Confessions, Hoffman writes of three generations of a flawed and tragic family. Reading Hoffman is like reading mythology where love poisons and passion has tentacles. The outsider, Meredith, like the Greek Chorus, tries to mend sorrows and succeeds in mending her own, but not that of the Moody family.

John Moody meets Arlyn when he is lost on the way to a party. Arlyn, whose father had been buried earlier that day, "felt weightless, the way people do when they're no longer sure they have a reason to be connected to this world. The slightest breeze could have carried her away, into the night sky, across the universe." When John asks for directions, she invites him into her home, and the drama begins. They wed when her pregnancy is discovered. Very shortly, they both know they have married the wrong person. Her precious Sam is born, and she lives for and shields him.

One birthday, John surprises Arlyn with a strand of pearls, confessing later that he found them. "She let John fasten the clasp even though they were most certainly a gift from another man, the one she'd loved." The pearls appear throughout the story, changing hue according to circumstance and mood. Stones, too, crop up throughout the tale, usually associated with death. And glass. The house John, Arlie, Sam, and later Blanca, live in is an architectural wonder designed by his father, almost entirely of glass, as fragile and as strong as love.

Alice Hoffman does not write simple stories. This one is full of myth, magic, ghosts, tragedy, and, ultimately, hope. Through it all, however, there is a sense of reality. This could happen! Hoffman's writing is lyrical, her characters are complex, and her story line captivating. A very satisfying book.

Alice Hoffman is the author of seventeen acclaimed and bestselling works of fiction. She is also the author of six books for children written with her son, Wolfe Martin.

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