February 03, 1986 12:00 PM

by Lisa Grunwald

The characters in this first novel all have trendy kinds of names: The narrator Jennifer’s older sister is named Hillary; their mother is Lulu and their father, Milo, is a successful, wealthy sculptor. They are spending the summer at their vacation home on an island off New England that bears some resemblance to Martha’s Vineyard. Lulu is dying. Milo works in secret in his studio. Hillary, an actress, wants a role in a professional production of Romeo and Juliet. Jennifer, a teenager, has a book of photographs published that summer. She also develops a heightened sense of her parents’ attachment to each other, and she decides that her father should die when her mother does. As she watches her mother’s decline, Jennifer falls in love with a young pilot who gives flying lessons, and she latches onto him with an intensity that he finds stifling. This is a highly romantic sort of novel, even sentimental at times, but when Jennifer tries to deal with her mother’s sad slide into the last stages of cancer, the book carries a solid emotional wallop. The author, a former reporter for the Vineyard Gazette and now an editor at Esquire, is the daughter of Time Inc. Editor-in-Chief Henry Grunwald. (Knopf, $15.95)

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