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Lark and Termite
Jayne Anne Phillips
Adult Fiction PHILLIP

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From Publishers' Weekly:

From Phillips (Motherkind; Shelter) comes a long-awaited and wonderful coming-of-age tale of grief and survival. The story straddles a parallel six-day period in July, one in 1959-during which 17-year-old Lark; her brother, Termite, who can't talk; and their aunt and caretaker, Nonie, are struggling to balance hope and despair in smalltown West Virginia-and nine years earlier, when Termite's father, Robert Leavitt, serves a tour in Korea. Lark, living with her aunt without knowing who her father is or why her mother gave her up, was nine years old when baby Termite landed on their doorstep. Nonie works long hours at a local restaurant to support the hodgepodge family, leaving Lark to take over mothering duties, but as Lark finishes secretarial school and realizes how limited the options are for her and Termite, forces of nature and odd individuals shed light on mysteries of the past and lend a hand in steering the next course of action. Through Robert and Nonie's stories and by exposing the innermost thoughts of each character, Phillips creates a wrenching portrait of devotion while keeping the suspense at a palpitating level. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In her latest novel, Phillips (Machine Dreams; Motherkind) works with favorite themes in a tale of secrets, family bonds, and the power of love related through multiple perspectives and set during the 1950s. Central to the narrative are a remarkable pair of siblings orphaned by the Korean War. Born the day his soldier father perished in the notorious No Gun Ri massacre, the young boy called Termite possesses unusual perception unnoticed by most observers because of his severe disabilities. His prospects in tiny Winfield, WV, seem dismal, but teenage sister Lark, who adores her little brother, won't give up. She schemes to gain a happy mutual future even while she is pursued romantically by a much older man, threatened with Termite's removal by the state, and endangered by approaching floodwaters. These suspenseful plot elements (including more than a hint of the supernatural) are supported by sensitively rendered characters and finely drawn Appalachian and Asian locales that create a poignant story with broad reader appeal. Recommended for most fiction collections.-Starr E. Smith, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Lark
Age: 17
Being raised by Nonie; doesn't know who her father is; mother abandoned her; attending secretarial school.

Lark's younger brother; unable to walk or talk; left as a baby on Nonie's doorstep.

Age: 50s
Lark and Termite's caretaker.

Robert Leavitt
Termite's father; serving a tour in Korea.

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