July 16, 2001 12:00 PM

by Goldberry Long

Jennifer Braverman is a confident New Mexico med student who starts to crumble when her brother drowns himself in Seattle. Deserting her husband and driving to the site of the suicide, she rattles back and forth from the present to her lonely past, when she lived in a mud house and her hippie parents raised her in rags, calling her Juniper Tree Burning.

This lush first novel is part family drama, part fairy tale (Brothers Grimm, not Disney), with Jennie as a Cinderella who expects no happily-ever-afters as she recalls bizarre stories from her childhood. Entertaining but unflinching, Burning is a revelation of the ugliest acts we commit against ourselves and those who love us. And it’s an unsentimental song of grief and forgiveness. (Simon & Schuster, $25)

Bottom Line: Blaze of glory

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