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A Year and a Day [Library Binding]

Leslie Pietrzyk
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 29 2008 1435292146 978-1435292147 Reprint

Fifteen-year-old Alice dreams of her first kiss, has sleepovers, auditions for Our Town, and tries to pass high school biology. It's 1975, and at first look, her life would seem to be normal and unexceptional. But in the world that Leslie Pietrzyk paints, every moment she chronicles is revealed through the kaleidoscope of loss, stained by the fact that Alice's mother, without warning, note, or apology, deliberately parks her car on the railroad tracks, in the path of an oncoming train.

In the emotional year that follows, Alice and her older brother find themselves in the care of their great aunt, forced to cope and move forward. Lonely and confused, Alice absorbs herself in her mother Annette's familiar rituals, trying to recapture their connection -- only to be stunned by the sound of her mother's voice speaking to her, engaging Alice in "conversations" and offering some insight into the life that she had led, beyond her role as Alice's mother.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In this heartfelt if familiar coming-of-age novel set in smalltown Shelby, Iowa, in 1975, Pietrzyk (Pears on a Willow Tree) chronicles a year in the life of 15-year-old Alice Martin after her mother's suicide. "Once you get through this first year, you're fine," the high school principal promises her, reading from a manual. But Alice isn't so sure. Three days after her mother's death, as Alice tries to fill her place by preparing Sunday morning pancakes, her mother speaks to her, providing advice on cooking, makeup and driving, but rarely answering the questions Alice really wants answered: Who is my father? What happened to him? How could you leave me? All Alice and her older brother, Will, know is what their great-aunt Aggy tells them: their mother moved away at age 17 and came back pregnant, with a baby in her arms. Over the course of the year, Alice uncovers secrets, unravels mysteries and finds that nothing and no one are what they seem. Her baseball-star brother runs away to see the Red Sox, Alice herself dallies with the school's bad boy and Pietrzyk allows the reader hints of why Alice's mother might have killed herself. Eccentric mothers and long-suffering daughters are a dime a dozen in recent fiction, but Pietrzyk paints a rich picture of life in rural Iowa, from summer jobs detassling corn to the suffocating force of conformity. As one Shelby housewife advises Alice, "Fitting in is so important. Everything is simpler that way."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Three days after her mother commits suicide, 15-year-old Alice begins to hear her voice. Giving Alice advice on everything from how to make pancakes to how to apply eyeliner, her mother also imparts some surprising information about her past--how she met Alice's father and why she left him. Alice pumps her eccentric, distracted aunt Aggy for more information and cross-examines her older brother about their absent father, struggling to integrate what she learns. She begins an exciting new relationship with bad boy Joe Fry, the only person who is unafraid to speak openly and honestly about her loss. Pietrzyk's sprawling second novel, following Pears on a Willow Tree (1998), gets a few things right, especially small-town teen girls in the seventies and their obsession with makeup, Ouija boards, and boys. Unfortunately, her mother's voice quickly comes to seem like an obvious and labored plot device. Still, there's humor here and a likable protagonist in Alice, who is not afraid to look for answers to some of life's biggest questions. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars a touching, tender story July 13 2004
By A Customer
A Year and a Day provides a chronicle of one person's search for answers to the questions that accompany an untimely death. Although the death in the book is a suicide, the same chorus of "why, why, why?" accompanies any unexpected death. The questions in this book are asked by 15-year old Alice as she tries to restore her life after it has been turned topsy-turvy by her mother's suicide.
Alice's world--1975 small-town Iowa--is lovingly and deftly created. Midwestern readers of a certain age can enjoy reliving their days of small-town rhythms, slumber parties, detasseling corn, and Jell-o salads. (Iowa still leads the nation in per capita Jell-o consumption.) Readers can also note that some things have changed-e.g., a pregnancy out of wedlock being such a social stigma that Paula Eland has to be sent out of town during her pregnancy. And, coming of age, realizing that things are not always as they seem, that there are no easy answers are experiences common to humankind.
It is frustrating to never learn the reasons for Mamma's suicide, but Alice comes to realize that there are not only no easy answers, sometimes there are no answers at all. Throughout the book Alice asks the unanswerable questions. Readers who have experienced such a loss will relate to Alice and may even hope that she finds the answers she is seeking. Yet we know in our hearts that the asking is part of healing and the echoes of the unanswered questions will last a lifetime.
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1.0 out of 5 stars supermarket pasta salad. July 7 2004
By A Customer
A Year and a Day is the typical, if not tired renditon of a coming of age teenage daugter and her coming of age brother dealing with the inexplicable suicide of their mother. Said mother 'speaks' to the daughter, espousing superficial, mostly, irrevalent insight and Hallmark-isms that she seemingly was unable to produce when alive. The genuineness of the book would have been enhanced by deleting the deceased mothers verbage, which was trite and poorly developed, and extremely sacchrine. I read to the end only to find out why the mother was in such despair and I was sorely disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quick, compelling read May 15 2004
I got up early this morning to finish reading this book. It was engrossing, and well-written. Leslie Pietrzyk's writing is smooth and enjoyable, without any annoying snags or plot deviations. As a reader, you have to accept the voice of the dead mother as possible, but because Mama interjects into Alice's thoughts so seamlessly, I didn't question it.
Although Alice is dealing with the suicide of her mother and looking for answers, I think this book can be applicable to anyone who has lost someone important to them. It's a fun read, and I highly recommend it to any type of reader.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and wonderful!! March 27 2004
I wish I could give this book more than five stars. I loved it!
I started reading it and couldn't put it down. After I finished it, I couldn't get the characters out of my mind. I know at a future date, this will be a book I will want to read again. I can't really say what about the book grabbed me so quick and so hard, but it won't let go! I do know that I laughed out loud and cried more than once. Give it a try, I don't think you will be sorry.
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5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful read March 24 2004
By A Customer
I really loved "A Year and A Day". It was a wonderfully moving novel that really took me back in time to a kinder world. Who wouldn't have wanted to grow up in a small mid-western town? I found the charecters to be interesting and well developed. I enjoyed the rich details of the life Alice and her family lead - both happy and sad. I was glad that Mama didn't tell her everything she wanted to know. I wished that the book would have taken a year and a day to read because I really enjoyed being part of Alice's life. I liked this book better than the Lovely Bones.
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