By EW Staff
Updated November 03, 1995 at 05:00 AM EST

Family Story Alison Scott Skelton (St. Martin’s, $23.95) Read this novel for the plot, literary merit, or sheer entertainment, but read it. Your family’s in it. They’re strange but real, right? So are Skelton’s characters. Two sets of siblings drift apart to different lives and continents until Annie gives coins to a subway beggar…and sees he’s her brother Eric. He runs. The families search for him, but he doesn’t want to be caught. Skelton freezes issues of living, loving, and dying into sharp vignettes. During the annual sullen Thanksgiving trip to the grandparents’ home, for instance, Annie’s husband demands, ”Why do we inflict this on ourselves?” The answer, of course, is ”It’s a tradition.” He snaps, ”So was burning witches at the stake.” The danger of any family saga is that it’ll liquefy into multigenerational mush, but Skelton hijacks the genre, inevitable ending and all, in this delightful, skillful, intelligent novel. A