PERSONAL: Born in Alice, TX; married; children: one son. Education: Louisiana State University, B.A.; Warren Wilson College, M.A.
ADDRESSES: Home—Woodlands, TX. Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Writer. Taught piano.
Looking for Mary Gabriel, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Carole Lawrence's autobiographical novel Looking for Mary Gabriel is set in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and opens with Jane Mitchell, who writes pamphlets for the state's department of agriculture, getting a call telling her that her father is dead and her sister Mary is in a mental institution. Jane, who as a child was called by her first name, Bonita, hasn't been home for thirty years. Flashbacks to the 1950s reveal how she had been given the responsibility of caring for her young sister, how it affected her coming-ofage, and of her friendship with another girl, who became Mary's most vicious tormentor. The person who seems to understand Mary best is not a family member, but Orlando Dupanthis, a watchman.
Jane must now bury her father and tell Mary of his death. As she prepares for the funeral, she reflects on family secrets and her estrangement from her parents and sister. A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that "Lawrence's portrait of middle-class girlhood in Baton Rouge is vivid, especially her treatment of Bonita's complicated loyalty to her sister." A Publishers Weekly reviewer felt Lawrence "movingly portrays a child's confusion and helplessness when faced with parental authority." Booklist's Hazel Rochman commented that the power of Looking for Mary Gabriel lies "not only in the aching truth of the childhood suffering but also in the awakening of the adult returning home."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of Looking for Mary Gabriel, p. 1092.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2002, review of Looking forMary Gabriel, p. 281.
Publishers Weekly, February 25, 2002, review of Looking for Mary Gabriel, p. 37.*