By Diane Freund
This novel takes place in 1953, in Four Corners, N.Y. where “nothing ever happens”. What happens in this novel is heart wrenching and quite unforgettable.
Rainey is a ten year old girl, who is wise beyond her years. What she doesn’t figure out, her fourteen year old cousin, Joan or her Aunt Merle, are more than willing to teach her.
It is when Rainey’s mother has a nervous breakdown and must be hospitalized that Merle and Joan come to care for Rainey and her four siblings. They come from the Bronx to Four Corners. Aunt Merle has issues of her own, and is a bitter, unhappy person. Eventually her abusive husband and son join them in Four Corners, adding to the chaos.
Rainey’s father tries hard to keep his family together. He brings her mother home for visits, trying to piece the family back together. Neighbors try to help, but one becomes a source of contention as Merle seeks his attention. This also affects precocious Joan.
The effects of mental illness, in different forms, are evident in this family. Rainey watches as her family suffers and spins out of control, trying to make sense of it all.
Diane Freund creates well defined characters with very real problems. Her book is multifaceted, pieced together skillfully. Beautifully told in memorable prose, Four Corners will leave you wondering what happened to the family and to Rainey.