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Readers of her "Life in the 30s" column in the New York Times (collected in Living Out Loud ) know Quindlen as an astute observer of family relationships. Her first novel is solid proof that she is equally discerning and skillful as a writer of fiction. To sensitive Maggie Scanlan, the summer when she turns 13 is "the time when her whole life changed." Aware that her father, Tommy, had outraged the wealthy Scanlan clan by marrying the daughter of an Italian cemetery caretaker, Maggie is a bridge between her "outcast" mother and her grandfather, whose favorite she is. Domineering, irascible, intolerant John Scanlan looks down on both Pope John XXII and President Kennedy for deviating from traditional Catholic doctrine. His iron hand crushes his wife and grown children, and when he decides that Maggie's parents and their soon-to-be-five offspring should move from their slightly shabby Irish Catholic Bronx suburb to a large house in Westchester which he has purchased for them, tension between her parents escalates and Maggie's loyalties are tested. But other unexpected events--her grandfather's stroke, her mother's attraction to a man of her own background, her best friend's defection, her first boyfriend--serve both to unsettle Maggie and to propel her across the threshold to adulthood. Quindlen's social antennae are acute: she conveys the fierce ethnic pride that distinguishes Irish and Italian communities, their rivalry and mutual disdain. Her character portrayal is empathetic and beautifully dimensional, not only of Maggie but of her mother, who experiences her own wrenching rite of passage. This absorbing coming-of-age novel will draw comparisons with the works of Mary Gordon, but Quindlen is a writer with her own voice and finely honed perceptions. Literary Guild alternate; author tour.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
YA-- This first novel is an insightful family chronicle, an informed commentary on the '60s, and the coming-of-age depiction of a mother and daughter. As 13-year-old Maggie struggles with her identity within the boisterous Scanlan clan, her mother also finds her own place within the patriarchal family that has never accepted her. Both women experience rites of passage during the fateful summer that a housing development is being built behind their home, infringing on their emotional and physical spaces. A fast-paced plot involves small fires set in the development by Maggie's friends and romantic tension between her mother and a man from her past. Readers will appreciate Maggie's dilemmas as she grapples with peer pressure and sexual bewilderment, and as she begins to understand her mother, whose discontent oddly parallels her own. --Jackie Gropman, Richard Byrd Library, Springfield, VA-
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Yes, it's "that summer" for the young preteen girl when everything seems to change. She muddles through changing friendships, her parents' possible marriage problems,... Read morePublished on Jan. 24 2004
This is the best book I have read in a long time. Many of my friends complained that it moved too slowly, but I attribute that slowness to the development of the characters. Read morePublished on July 6 2003 by K L Keaton
I wanted to, I really did! But I just can't bring myself to do it. I read "One True Thing" and "Black and Blue" and loved them both. Read morePublished on Aug. 6 2002 by Robert Reardon
This book is clearly the work of an amateur; it reads as though it is Ms. Quindlen's first work, perhaps left unpublished since early adolescence (and with GOOD reason), and picked... Read morePublished on Jan. 7 2002 by Pamela
I read Anna Quindlen's column regularly, for over a decade, in "The New York Times." I clipped many of them and saved them. I thought she was a wonderful writer. Read morePublished on Nov. 8 2001
This is a good coming-of-age story not only for adults, but for advanced teen readers as well. However, it's not just the story of Maggie, a 12 year old at a watershed between... Read morePublished on April 25 2001 by Amy
I first read Eavan Boland in an Irish literature class in college. Her writing is magical, lyrical, ethereal and forces you realize the power of identity, language, culture. Read morePublished on Oct. 11 2000 by Adrienne K. Yee
I am so glad that I took this book out of the library and didn't waste money on it. There was no plot to speak of, the characters were so sterotyped--Irish Catholics vs Italian... Read morePublished on Aug. 24 2000