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December 1976

About Alcoholism - Alcoholism Information, Research and Treatment

Book Review - 'Diving for Roses'

Many of these items are contrary to AA philosophy. Their publication here does not mean that the Grapevine endorses or approves them; they are offered solely for your information.

The special interest Patricia Windsor's novel may hold for AA readers is not spelled out until the story is halfway over. But many such readers will see it earlier, through the haze of fantasies that a 17-year-old girl has created to ease a lonely life in a neglected country house. Jean's mother seems to be the conventional resident madwoman of Gothic fiction. The housekeeper is witchlike; the drug-dispensing doctor is a sinister magician; the father, on his brief visits from a nearby city, is a shadowy figure.

The grounds surrounding the house become an enchanted wood; the lover Jean meets there, a junior Great God Pan. In fact, he's a perfectly ordinary young man, and he smashes the foundation of her fantasy world with one simple statement; "Your mother is an alcoholic." This unromantic truth is no more welcome to Jean than are the AA members who come to help the mother or the Al-Anons who reach out to the daughter. But Jean has enough intelligence and courage to know that she must learn to live in the real world.

Designed for teenagers, the book speaks with present-day bluntness on sexual matters, uses an occasional four-letter word where appropriate, and calls for a considerable degree of literacy. In keeping with its heroine's temperament, the style is lushly fanciful throughout the first half and becomes more matter-of-fact as the fantasies dissolve into reality. Like Jean, the writer seems afraid that reality may be comparatively dull. Too many crises are tossed in, tilting the story toward melodrama. But the impressions given of the AA and Al-Anon programs and the changes they effect are unsentimental and accurate.

Published by Harper & Row, 10 E. 53rd St., New York, NY 10022; price, $5.95

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