June 01, 1998 12:00 PM

Jacquelyn Mitchard

Mitchard’s bestselling first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, captured readers’ hearts in 1996 with its searing portrayal of maternal love. This time she explores the reckless desire that can seize even the most sensible girl at a vulnerable moment.

Arley Mowbray is just 14 when she begins corresponding with a handsome 23-year-old prisoner named Dillon. They share a hardscrabble Texas upbringing and a love of poetry and work up quite a lather before Arley agrees to marry him so they can have a conjugal visit. Their one night together sets off a chain of devastating aftershocks.

Though poignantly told in alternating voices by Arley and her lawyer (and substitute mom) Annie Singer, The Most Wanted is marred by a certain heavy-handedness. The poetry the lovers write for each other is unconvincing, and naming characters Dillon Thomas LeGrande or Claude Monet is a distraction. Nevertheless, anyone who has ever fallen for an unsuitable love will respond to Mitchard’s tale of the yearning that transcends reason. (Viking, $24.95)

Bottom Line: A corny love song that will get you in the end

You May Like