Midwest Review of Books
who map the human brain have discovered that when most people hear
music, their pleasure centers are stimulated in the brain. When
musicians hear music, their language centers are stimulated. For
violin virtuoso Sabrina Starling, the protagonist of Karin Kallmaker's
novel, Maybe Next Time, music is not only a language, it
is the language she depends upon to express her emotions.
Bree, as she
is known from childhood, first began to play the violin when she
was four years old. And it is music that allows her to survive the
death of her mother and her father before she is six. Music is the
only way she can breech the wall that grief and loss have built
around her childhood. With her music she can adapt to living in
rural Hawaii with her mother's best friend, Lani, and Lani's daughter,
Jorie. Through her music, Bree will be blessed time and again as
her life crosses other great musicians who guide or encourage her.
are things that Bree doesn't seem able to understand. She struggles
to understand her feelings for her Jorie. Her love for Jorie is
exciting and frightening. Jorie, Bree believes could be "music
for a lifetime." (p108) Despite the teens' explorations, Jorie
doesn't seem to reciprocate Bree's love. This rejection is just
one more section in the wall that stands between Bree and the rest
of the world. Identifying as lesbian when she goes off to study
music at the Conservatory, Bree discovers other women who are very
attracted to her. For several years she takes a "living in
the moment" approach to romance, indulging in the groupies
of the classical music world. While her professional life was successful
beyond imagining, her personal life was lonely. Bree's love for
Jorie is an ache that she hasn't been able to fill.
from an injury and floundering without her music, Bree finds herself
drawn to Diana. Diana and Pam have been together for years. They
have a kind of happiness that Bree has been missing. Without her
music, a confused Bree decides that having Diana will fill her life
with the love she has missed. And she will risk everything to have
Told in a series
of flashbacks, Maybe Next Time is not a light read. The journey
of Bree's redemption is a painful one. She must face her own arrogance
and mistakes. However, it is a rich story with complex characters
struggling with their faults and weaknesses as well as several charming
moments. Kallmaker reminds readers what it was like to be a sixteen-year
old girl in 1976 and realize that you're in love with another girl.
It was a time and place far away from the Pride Parades of San Francisco,
let alone the relative freedom of the 21st century.
respectful insights into Polynesian culture. Perhaps one of the
most touching moments in Bree's childhood is when Lani takes her
to a native Hawaiian celebration. Young Bree is blessed by a gentle
singer and finds the voice of music again. From this moment it becomes
clear to Lani that her best friend's daughter must have music in
her life. Lani will make certain that Bree gets musical training.
Even with the
angst there are signature Kallmaker elements. The erotic energy
between Bree and Jorie is electric and evolves throughout the novel.
Kallmaker's wit enlivens the book. There are delightful moments
such as Bree's first opportunity to play an 18th century Guarneri
violin. Or the poker night when Diana and company create new group
terms including, "A clench of clits" and "a lick
of lesbians!" (p186)
romance, Maybe Next Time is an engrossing, compelling story
of redemption, healing and surviving. Kallmaker has explored complicated
themes and done so with heart and a touch of humor. In this reader's
opinion, it is one of her best novels.