Haven Kimmel is nothing if not versatile. She proved she could be intensely funny in her best-selling memoir A Girl Named Zippy. She followed that up with the sweetly poignant novel, The Solace of Leaving Early. Her latest novel, Something Rising (Light and Swift) is a stunner of a story that continues Kimmel's tradition of mixing page-turning narrative with heartbreaking honesty.

Cassie Claiborne spent her childhood sitting on her porch in rural Indiana, waiting for her mostly absent father to make an appearance. In Something Rising, we watch as Cassie grows from a morose little girl into a quiet woman whose only pleasure is her housebound sister, her offbeat friends and pool. She'll beat the tar out of anyone who dares challenge her, and she doesn't mind taking their money.

But Cassie's friends and family know she needs more to her life than taking care of her sister and hanging around the smoky pool halls of Indiana. When her mother dies, and Cassie is given the chance to travel to New Orleans on family business, she's urged to take the trip. What she discovers there both about herself and her family history can't help but change her.

Kimmel's novel offers a rich collection of complicated, nuanced people. Her dialogue, especially, always rings true and honest; in Kimmel's sure hands, even the most stoic of characters is compelling and eloquent. Cassie's mother, who rarely talked in life, leaves a heart-rending note when she dies, telling her daughters to take care of each other, that she is tired of the banalities of life, of "flossing, of hand lotion, of the food pyramid." With this third effort, it's safe to say Kimmel is a master of making these very details the stuff of everyday life endlessly readable. Amy Scribner recently completed a cross-country move to Olympia, Washington.

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