When 15-year-old Theresa Williams discovers a suicide's body dangling in the foliage of an oak tree in her family's front yard, she knows immediately who the dead man is. That is, she knows Lawrence's name, his deep unhappiness, and how he came to live with her and her mother Maxine, a woman who rages at him constantly, inexplicably. But she also knows there must be more to the story, which sends her down a frightening path of investigation that presses into family secrets and the eventual truth about Lawrence--just as the turmoil surrounding mother and daughter finally explodes. Maxine's fireball personality fuels her love as well as her anger. Born to the circus, she learns her mother's and grandmother's trade as a trapeze artist, as they toss her through the air from one to the other until the finale: a daring spinning leap--no nets--into her mother's waiting arms. But one day, someone misses her catch, Maxine falls, and her mother Dollie Mae disappears for days. When she finally returns, Dollie Mae won't speak of the accident--a silence that triggers a profound series of disconnections that puts Maxine on a mission to make herself into someone worth admiring and sends Theresa on a quest for her mother's complex love. A failure at most of Maxine's schemes, Theresa hides secrets of her own, one of which may have sped Lawrence's suicide. At the heart of all the sadness are the netless gaps between each other that the family creates and defends, trusting that the concept of family will unconditionally prevent them from falling.
Failing the Trapeze
Southeast Missouri State University Press