Did your parents ever make you do something against your will?
It's the story of Hannah's life—from wearing casts to being an outcast, the little girl who's left on the roadside after being hit by a car grows up in Lisa Glatt's "The Nakeds."
Glatt wastes no time with her latest, the opening pages taking readers straight into Hannah's house, where as a six-year-old, she witnesses the breakup of her parents, Asher and Nina. Choosing to walk to school by herself, it's on her way that she is hit by Martin Kettle, driving home drunk and high from an all-too-familiar night of debauchery with his friend Tony.
Trust me when I say this spoils nothing—it's simply the setup for the novel, which traces young Hannah's recovery amidst the remarriages of both her parents to decidedly different kids of people. There's Christy, Asher's longtime mistress and now his wife, and Azeem, the much younger "psychology" student that awakens Nina's sexual curiosities.
Alongside Hannah's recovery is the story of Martin, a young man that tries to right himself but repeatedly fails—first in California, then Las Vegas, then back in California. Glatt paints a picture of the typical early 70s family for Martin—loving, if somewhat unaware parents, a sister with an eating disorder and of course, some drug- and booze-lovin' friends. It's a different scene than that of Hannah's forced to live with budding nudists and alientated by her father's new setup.
And this is why I think Hannah becomes the more compelling character, being so young and faced with constantly strange circumstances. Whereas Martin is a criminal that has yet to come to terms with his guilt—even in the face of friends and family that support him, Hannah is adrift in a world where the religion she is born into (Judaism) is called in question, the traditional structure of family is nonexistent and friends that understand her circumstances are far and few between.
I'm not sure I am happy with the ending—readers are left to speculate on too many characters' resolutions. It's not the kind of book that begs for a sequel, yet I'm left to wonder what happens at the restaurant in the final scene. That said, sometimes imagination is the best way to bring a book to a close.
While not marketed toward YA readers, I would easily share this book with the teens in my house—overall, a really captivating read.
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