FALLING OVER VENUS
|It’s 1975 and fourteen year-old SARA BUCHANAN wants nothing more than to be a normal teen. It’s Sara’s first year at high school and she’s determined that it will be different. She’ll make her own decisions, stop being a loner. She’ll get a boyfriend. And fit in…
But her father, JIM, doesn’t believe in adolescence. He expects nothing less than perfection, demanding that in the dead of winter, she relentlessly swim laps in the outdoor pool. He puts a padlock on the only room with a television. He even grades his wife HELEN’s meals. Jim is simply incapable of understanding human emotion and frailty.
Christmas comes and Jim, as usual, rejects the commercial holiday. Unable to handle Jim’s fanaticism, Helen has a mental breakdown. Christmas morning, Jim and Sara find her outside in the snow dressed only in a nightgown. Sara watches in horror as her mother snarls at them like a rabid animal. Helen is hospitalized, unable to communicate with anyone.
Lost and alone, Sara begins drinking and trouble making with the “Disco Sluts,” the bad girls of the ninth grade. She avoids her dad. She even begins to fall in love with DAVID MACKS, her hip new economics teacher, who seems to take a special interest in her.
At an adult party, where drugs and casual sex are rampant, young Sara finds David high on cocaine. She leads him to the laundry room and seduces him. Her first sexual experience is rough, quick and unsatisfying. Embarrassed by his lack of control, David leaves Sara behind on the floor of the laundry room.
Jim finds out about Sara’s encounter and confronts David - humiliating him by proclaiming that he doesn’t even know Sara. Sara angrily screams back that her father doesn’t know HER and she doesn’t love him. Realizing that he’s lost both his wife and his daughter, Jim’s world begins to collapse. All he can do is be silent and go home.
Jim and Sara make slow progress at healing their wounded lives and Jim makes a concerted effort to break his rigidity and realize the pressure he’s put on the people he loves most. As Sara works through the tough lessons of adolescence, she begins to appreciate her father’s uniqueness and humor. Together they help Helen break free from her invisible prison.
In the end, Sara realizes how proud she is to be part of her odd family.
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