February 07, 2000 12:00 PM

by Eliza Minot

Book of the week

What’s an aspiring writer to do when her sister has already transformed the defining event in their lives—their mother’s death—into literary gold? Eliza Minot, whose sister Susan’s novel Monkeys won acclaim in 1986, wisely decided to tell the-story her way. In believably childlike prose, The Tiny One recounts 8-year-old Via Revere’s attempt to come to terms with the car crash that kills her beloved “Mum.” As Via describes the day her world shattered, older memories surface: losses (her dog’s death) and joys, such as the day she and Mum snared a perfect peach and watched the sun set. (“You must always remember,” her mother said then, “that there will always be days like this.”)

“I’ll watch and remember,” Via decides at the novel’s end. “Because it keeps life from getting lost and wondering where she went.” That it did the same for Via’s creator is apparent on every page of this haunting debut. (Knopf, $22)

Bottom Line: Compelling tale of a death in the family

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