Rhonda Johnson
February 11, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

Shea’s stunning first novel Hula is a voyeuristic account of a nameless family’s troubling secrets, told by the younger of two sisters over two Virginia summers in the mid-1960s. The father, violent and disturbed, terrorizes his family wearing a bizarre gorilla mask and hairy rubber hands; his abuse alienates the girls from their mother. In their backyard exile, the older sister, experiencing an uneasy sexual awakening, bullies and taunts away the young narrator’s last remnants of innocence. Written in dreamlike episodes, this slim book creates an unsentimentalized child’s universe of summer storms and shadowy hiding places, tortured dolls and predatory teenage boys — images that will seduce and disturb you long after you’ve turned the last page. A

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