Picks and Pans Review: The Uses of Enchantment

updated 11/13/2006 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/13/2006 AT 01:00 AM EST

By Heidi Julavits

With this tale of Mary Veal, a New England prepster who may or may not have been abducted when she was 16, Julavits does not traffic in easy answers. The story of what did—or didn't—occur is compelling all the same, due largely to the precision of the prose in Julavits's third novel. Chapters dart from Mary's disappearance in 1985, to the notes of the psychotherapist who then cast doubt on her story, to the aftermath of her mother's death in 1999. By constantly shifting the ground beneath our feet, Julavits invites us to reconsider the meaning of truth when it comes to family dynamics.

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