In her first two books, Haven Kimmel claimed her spot on the literary scene- surprising readers with her memoir, A Girl Named Zippy, and winning an outpouring of critical acclaim for her first novel, The Solace of Leaving Early. Now, in her second novel, she brings to the page a heroine's tireless quest for truth, love, justice, and the perfect game of 9-ball.
Cassie Claiborne's world is riddled with problems beyond her control: her hard- living, pool-shooting father has another wife; her stoic, long-suffering mother is incapable of moving herself mentally away from the kitchen window; her sister Belle is a tempest of fragility and brilliance; her closest friends, Puck and Emmy, are adolescent harbingers of their own doomed futures. Frustrated by her inability to care deeply enough for so many troubled souls, Cassie finds in the local pool hall an oasis of green felt where she can master objects and restrain her emotions.
As Cassie grows from a quietly complex girl into a headstrong young woman, she takes on the thankless role of family provider by working odd jobs and hustling pool. All the while, she keeps her eye on the ultimate prize: wringing suitable justice out of past wrongs and freeing herself from the inertia that is her life.
In this ultimately uplifting story, Haven Kimmel reaches deep into the hamstrung souls of her fictional corner of Indiana. Remarkable for its tough tenderness, Something Rising (Light and Swift) is an astonishing work of pure heartbreak.
Kimmel returns to the semirural Indiana of her bestselling memoir, A Girl Named Zippy, and her witty novel, The Solace of Leaving Early, to recount, in graceful episodes, the troubled coming-of-age of Cassie Claiborne, who balances "on the fulcrum of happiness and despair." Following a stage-setting prologue, the book opens with 10-year-old Cassie waiting, as usual, for her irresponsible, often absent father. Jimmy Claiborne is a selfish lout who cares more for pool than his family ("You know you're my favorite, Cassie, although God knows that ain't saying much"), but his love for the game soon becomes Cassie's when his friend Bud teaches her to play. As a teenager, she's a pool shark, paying the bills for her defeated, distant mother, Laura, and taking care of her overachieving, agoraphobic sister, Belle. Understandably, she'd like a better life. After Jimmy splits for good divorcing his wife and emancipating his daughters Laura waxes nostalgic about an old boyfriend in New Orleans whom she left for Cassie's father. Cassie fantasizes about how things might have been had her mother stayed with that man, "her shadow father." At 30, Cassie has become a strong-willed feminist (though she'd never call herself that) who goes to New Orleans to defeat her demons and her mother's old boyfriend in a game of nine-ball. Kimmel's characters are sympathetic and believable, and the author proves herself equally deft at conveying smalltown desolation and the physics of pool. With a tougher core than her previous books, and an ending that's redemptive without being clich d, Kimmel's latest is another winner.