"deep psychological drama"

For the most part, Lucinda Hunter has not left her Connecticut home in twenty-seven years. Rarely she will leave to go into town, but that takes quite a struggle for her to achieve. Shockingly, Lucinda is the daughter of the late great actress Lily Hunter and a noted screenwriter in her own right. However, when her mother died, Lucinda learned that her father was a black man. Unable to cope with not knowing whether she belongs to the white or black race, both or neither, she became a hermit.

Lucinda looks out her window to see a young African- American female playing in her yard. The girl invites Lucinda outside. Surprisingly she goes and soon a bond forms between the nine-year-old Harlem resident Katanya Taylor, in town as part of the FRESH AIR program, and the recluse. As they become better acquainted, Kat helps Lucinda overcome her agoraphobia one step at a time.

FRESH AIR is an engaging contemporary tale that showcases how modern communication systems enable an individual to hide from society as everything can be ordered on line. The story line focuses on friendship, as everyone needs someone to care about. Lucinda is an incredible lead character and though Kat acts more like an adult than a preadolescent, readers will find her charming too. The support cast provides the audience deep insight into Lucinda as Charlotte Vale Allen gifts her fans with a deep psychological drama.

Harriet Klausner

Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted March 4, 2003


For twenty-seven years Lucinda Hunter, daughter of the acclaimed film star Lily Hunter, has been a virtual recluse. Alone in the Connecticut farmhouse that was once her mother's, Lucinda's life has become a small thing. Everything she wants or needs can be purchased online, and her only trips to the outside world are to the library or to the post office. It sometimes takes her days before she has sufficient courage to venture past her front door, and even these excursions are sufficiently traumatic to induce blinding migraine headaches.

Then, one hot morning in July, as she sits at her computer near the living-room window, a motion in the garden catches her eye. When she turns to look out, she is certain she must be hallucinating-for out there, admiring the overgrown flower beds, is a little girl in shorts and a T-shirt, her bare feet in outsize sneakers. She can't be real, Lucinda tells herself. But when she looks again, the little girl beckons to her to come outside. Bemused, curious, Lucinda gets up and goes outdoors to make the acquaintance of charmingly precocious nine-year- old Katanya Taylor who has, courtesy of the Fresh Air Fund, come from Harlem to spend two weeks with a host family.

Taken with the girl's sweet-natured intelligence and generosity of spirit, Lucinda gradually, painfully finds herself drawn back into the world she left after her mother's death. Through Katanya, Lucinda reexamines her past, and gets answers to ~he questions that kept her locked inside herself and inside her mother's house for more than half her life.

Once again, with her singular insights into human nature, Charlotte Vale Allen delves into the life and heart of a fragile, frightened woman, taking the reader on a gentle touching exploration of how two people-a haunted adult and a gifted child-connect and enrich each other's lives.


Fresh Air
by Charlotte Vale Allen

MIRA Books
April 1, 2003
ISBN #1551666820
288 pages
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Other Books by
Charlotte Vale Allen

Sudden Moves
Grace Notes
Dreaming In Color

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