Ari Karpel
April 11, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Family History

Current Status
In Season
Dani Shapiro

We gave it a B-

In her riveting 1998 memoir Slow Motion, Shapiro recounted the car accident that nearly killed her suburban parents and left her — the checked-out, drug-addled daughter — struggling to hold it together. Now grown up and with a suburban family of her own, Shapiro infuses her new novel with her, well, family history. Rachel Jensen, a Shapiro-like New York City refugee, struggles to hold it together as her troubled daughter, Kate, slips away emotionally, her husband, Ned, moves out, and her infant son, Josh, has a potentially life-altering accident. Revealing a self-pity she dared not display in her own bio, Shapiro milks the Jensens’ melodrama in a carefully crafted series of flashbacks. Still, History draws you into the Jensens’ world, making you crave their survival — and tear up at even the slightest signs of hope.

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