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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.
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.
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. Read morePublished on July 6 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... Read morePublished on May 15 2004 by A. Schultz
I wish I could give this book more than five stars. I loved it!
I started reading it and couldn't put it down. Read more
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. Read morePublished on March 24 2004
This is an excellent book; a compelling story with rich detail and exquisite character development presenting both the complexities and thrills we all encountered while growing up. Read morePublished on March 12 2004