ISLE OF PALMS
Anna Lutz Abbot is used to scandal. When she was 10, her mother died in bed with a pharmacist who wasn't Anna's father, and her cold, cruel paternal grandmother came to live with them.
When Anna is a senior in high school, her grandmother sets her up on a date with the minister's son—who drugs Anna's drink and rapes her. Ten weeks later, Anna discovers she's pregnant, angering her grandmother so much she suffers a stroke and dies a week later.
Told in first person, Anna's story slips from the present to the past. Surprisingly uplifting, perhaps because of Anna's resilence in the face of such ordeals, I laughed and cried while reading. Dorothea Benton Frank also captures the flavor of the low country to a tee. (Jul., 432 pp., $24.95)