Rhonda Johnson
May 26, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Fiona Range

Current Status
In Season
Mary McGarry Morris

We gave it an A-

The 30-year-old heroine of Mary McGarry Morris’ utterly engrossing fourth novel, Fiona Range, vows to change her life the morning she wakes up remembering a collie she kissed at a party the night before but unable to recall the name of the naked man beside her bed. Vivacious, sarcsatic, and promiscuous, Fiona is an easy scapegoat for trouble in claustrophobic Dearborn, Mass. Abandoned as an infant by her unwed mother and ignored by an eccentric Vietnam vet rumored to be her father, Fiona grows up with a hefty chip on her shoulder in her maternal aunt’s affluent family. Now, banished by her exasperated realtives and stuck in a dead-end waitress job, Fiona teeters on the brink of social ostrcism, and Morris brings her to life in a tour de force of dialogue and detail. Some readers may quibble with the Hollywood-worthy, all-secrets-revealed ending, since Fiona, with all her problems, would seem to defy such neat resolution. But Morris in complete charge of her hardscrabble literary territory — ragged psyches, busted-up lives — and Fiona is without question her most complicated, compelling character to date. A-

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