Free Love and Angst in the 1970s

The Nakeds

By Lisa Glatt

A young man lost in life, Martin Kettle, drives drunk and recklessly after a binge and hits a child, Hannah Teller, going to school. Instead of stopping, he speeds away, leaving the six-year-old severely injured in the street.

And so begins Lisa Glatt’s very good novel of adjusting and coping with crippling life events: Martin’s guilt about deserting the scene; Hannah’s years of medical treatment to regain the use of her leg; and her parents’, Asher’s and Nina’s, divorce and their respective remarriages to Christy and Azeem.

While economical novel, Glatt manages to blend into the mix of family challenges many of the societal changes of the 70s, primary among them the sexual revolution in the form of Azeem’s interest in nudist living and open marriage. She provides insights into handling cultural differences, these being Asher’s remarriage to a devoted Christian and his conversion from Judaism and his proselytizing of his new religious affiliation, and Nina’s remarriage to a younger man, a transplanted Arab, and a psychology student specializing in sex.

Add to the mix Hannah’s long suffering with doctor after doctor making promises they can’t keep regarding her mangled leg and her growth into a young woman wishing for a normal life, as well as Martin’s tortured life harboring a secret he can’t bear to face and can’t bring himself to share in any redemptive way–well, you have all the ingredients for quite a pot boiler.

To Glatt’s credit, her understated and sympathetic tone keep the novel on the high road at all times. She creates compelling forward force by sustaining our hope life will work out for Hannah and Martin will find peace in the truth. Glatt fulfills some of a reader’s desire but not every one in these regards. It’s a novel that deserves a wider readership. w/c

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