Poet and novelist Kasischke finds beauty amid the apocalypse in her timely seventh novel. The Phoenix flu is sweeping the world, causing mass hysteria, arousing profound paranoia and inciting anti-American hatred worldwide. Jiselle, 32, is a jaded flight attendant and perpetual bridesmaid who says, "I do," when handsome pilot Capt. Mark Dorn, a widower, offers her a vision of a perfect Midwestern family life far from her humdrum job and the dangers of the pandemic. The glitch is Mark's three minor children, who view Jiselle with derision, pity or outright hostility despite her best efforts to mother them. After the flu threat detains Mark overseas for months and then strikes close to home, Jiselle and her stepchildren must redefine their idea of family, community and their understanding of perfection and happiness. As their prospects of survival dwindle, the nascent family's fragile ties grow stronger. Kasischke's penchant for disconcerting but absorbing fiction is on display, as is her facility with language. Startling, sometimes violent images combine with strikingly dispassionate narration to create a fictional world where terror, beauty and chaos walk hand in hand. (Oct.)[Page 36]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.