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The Orange Blossom Special

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Pages: 304

Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

Publisher: Date:Unknown - Dell

By: Betsy Carter

From Publishers Weekly — The title of Carter's sympathetic if somewhat contrived debut novel (she's the author of a memoir, Nothing to Fall Back On) refers to the first New York?to?Miami passenger train, a not-so-subtle metaphor for the American dream and the forward march of history, as the story hurtles from the late '50s and into the '80s. In 1958, comely widow Tessie Lockhart and her seventh-grade daughter, Dinah, uproot from Carbondale, Illinois, to Gainesville, Florida, driven by a very American faith in the healing power of a fresh start. There, their lives intertwine with those of Gainesville's powerful Landy family, as Dinah's popular classmate Crystal Landy and her solemn older brother, Charlie, befriend Dinah. When the Landys' house burns down, killing their father, Dinah and Crystal form a special bond, speaking "the same language of loss" across the divide of class and social status. Even Tessie and supercilious matriarch Victoria Landy cement a rocky friendship, and over the years, a tumultuous love blossoms between Dinah and Charlie. Carter's plot skips lightly over the passing decades, which are marked by periodic eruptions of changing culture. Each incident of racial strife or Vietnam tragedy feels forced and representative, though, and as the novel barrels into the late?20th century like the titular locomotive, Carter sacrifices character development in her reach for historical import.  

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