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Picks and Pans Review: Quickening

updated 08/14/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/14/2000 01:00AM

by Laura Catherine Brown

For Mandy Boyle, getting into Albany State University represents a hard-won liberation, not only from her dead-end Upstate New York hometown but from her mother's stifling presence and their family's humiliating status as a church charity case. But the death of Mandy's beloved father throws the self-possessed student into a tailspin and makes her question her goals.

In this impressive debut novel, Brown explores a young woman's emotional upheavals with sincerity and grace. Mandy's almost predictable plunge into a relationship with a slightly older guy—and the painful consequences of that development—are sensitively and credibly rendered. And yet Quickening lacks tear-inducing power; the depictions of the minutiae of Mandy's inner turmoil ultimately feel workmanlike and repetitive. Still, Brown is a talent to watch. (Random House, $23.95)

Bottom Line: Strong first effort

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