Tomato Girl

Tomato Girl has all the elements of a good novel: a mentally ill mother, a tempted father and a little girl trying to hold everything together as her world is shattered, saved only by a wise old black woman. But first-time novelist Jayne Pupek fails to build an adequate story, randomly splashing out cardboard characters in clichéd situations and failing to provide even the most rudimentary conclusion. Other novelists – Kaye Gibbons, Jill McCorkle, Elizabeth Berg – have visited this basic premise with far more fruitful results. Pupek obviously hoped to ride their coattails – a wish surely shared by her editors at Algonquin – but she fails in every respect. 

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