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Something Rising: (Light and Swift)    by Haven Kimmel order for
Something Rising
by Haven Kimmel
Order:  USA  Can
Free Press, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Haven Kimmel gives us a most unusual novel in Something Rising, set in rural Indiana. It opens on young Cassie playing pool for money, under the watchful eye of surrogate father and family friend, Uncle Bud, one of the more likeable characters in the story.

Cassie's mother Laura, whose 'unhappiness was her religion', smokes cigarettes and bemoans her impulsive marriage to Cassie's absentee father Jimmy, who takes no responsibility for his family. Cassie, of whom her mother says 'When I was growing up, women weren't made like you, so hard and strong', is practical, responsible, a natural at the pool table, and very protective of her fragile sister Belle, who is close to her mother, a parent who 'was right there and couldn't be reached.'

Belle lives in her own world, has an academic stint and then won't even leave the house. The voice of chain-smoking Laura, who is 'blank and silent and simmering for days on end', only emerges strongly late in the novel, and takes a surprisingly (for one who seems to have given up on life) eloquent feminist tone. Cassie grows up tough and belligerent on the outside. In one wonderful scene she plays pool against her father and wins (easily) from him something that he values much more than he values his daughters.

On her mother's death, Cassie discovers New Orleans and new possibilities for her life. It seems odd that someone who is in many ways her father's daughter should find in herself such a great affinity for her mother's hometown - perhaps part of her journey through life from one parent to the other. There are some very satisfying moments, one involving the man that Laura left for Jimmy, and another starring Cassie's sister Belle.

This is a tale to get your teeth into, in which dreams and journal jottings are significant, and events symbolic - an excellent choice for reading groups. But essentially Something Rising is about children, damaged by their parents' inability to live together, who eventually grow up and find their own way in life - and about pool, of course.

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