Kate Wilson
June 10, 1994 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Home and Away is that rarest of novels, one that minutely examines the days of a person’s life, infiltrating someone’s skin and counting her breaths, without making you wish for a car chase to liven things up. Joanne Meschery’s main character, the extraordinary Hedy Castle, makes you see the world through her eyes in the very first sentence: “My daughter Jen got moved up to varsity the day we started bombing Iraq.” From then on, the cornerstones of Hedy’s life — her job as a California border guard, her failing marriage, her disabled father, Jen’s basketball team — become tiny cameos of uncertainty about enormous issues like morality, abortion, lesbianism, war, and the overarching question of whether to leave someone alone when you hate what they’re doing. Closing the book and seeing Hedy’s exact problems still staring at you in real life is like escaping from deep water to dry land, only to be hit by a truck. A

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