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Object Lessons [Mass Market Paperback]

Anna Quindlen
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 22 1992
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
"Elaborate and playful...Honest and deeply felt....Here is the Quindlen wit, the sharp eye for the details of class and manners, [and] the ardent reading of domestic lives."
THE NEW YORK TIMES
It is the 1960s, in suburban New York City. Maggie and her family, are in the thrall of her powerful grandfather Jack Scanlan. In the summer of her twelfth year, Maggie is despertately trying to master the object lessons her grandfather fills her head with. But there is too much going on to concentrate. Everything at home is in upheaval, her grandfather is changing, and Maggie is unsure if what she wants is worth having....

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In this absorbing coming-of-age novel, a Literary Guild selection in cloth that spent 10 weeks on PW 's bestseller list, New York Times columnist Quindlen skillfully conveys the fierce ethnic pride of Irish and Italian communities.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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First Sentence
EVER AFTER, WHENEVER SHE SMELLED THE PECULIAR ODOR of new construction, of pine planking and plastic plumbing pipes, she would think of that summer, think of it as the time of changes. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Silly pointless book May 27 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've been meaning to read some of Anna Quindlan's work, and this one was at the libary, so I thought, why not? Well, all I can say is that if Quindlen wasn't a well known writer, this is the type of manuscript that an editor would toss into the trash.
Too many characters, too many POV, to the point where you really got them confused. No plot, no story. The cliches were enough to make you cry, as were the stereotyped characters. The mean and demanding family patriarch, the family feud because a member married someone who wasn't their own kind, the precocious 13 year old girl. None of these characters are really explained, or have any depth. For example, why does Connie start seeing another man? Why is Maggie intrigued with fire? Why is her cousin so mean? And what's with the nun, who was reading Jane Eyre? Whatever was that about?
I couldn't wait to return this trash to the library. I seriously thought about just telling the library I had lost it, so no one else would mistakenly take this out, thinking that the Quindlen name means its a decent read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Light Reading- Not great, but charming Sept. 13 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
There are sufficient descriptions of the storyline of this book in previous reviews. There aren't too many characters IMO, and if the conflicts of the protagonist don't seem deeply examined, perhaps Ms. Quindlen should receive kudos for not writing a twelve/thirteen year old girl who has all the insights of an adult. We are, after all, seeing her conflicts through her eyes. It's a quick and easy read, and as it is written largely from the perspective of an adolescent, it is a bit like going back and re-reading a book from one's own adolescence, with the possible twist of also re-living one's own adolescence a bit. This book never made me cry, nor did it ever make me laugh out loud, so if you're looking for cathartic involvement, this may not be the book you're looking for. If you're looking for a quiet read that examines emotional transitions with some distance and objectivity, you're closer to the mark. The story's best moments are those which describe Maggie's times alone, which include some nice sense-memory descriptions and accurately portray the near-disembodied feelings of isolation of an adolescent girl. I was drawn to Maggie's parents, and while there is some nice development of her mother Connie (particularly with respect to her relationship to Maggie and her relationship to motherhood in general) I found myself at the end of the book without the corresponding insight into her father Tommy that I was looking for. The story is strangely simultaneously depressing and comforting- the resolution is that there are no real resolutions, and as Maggie's mother says, that things aren't good or bad, things just are.
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4.0 out of 5 stars One of those books that you can not resist Aug. 11 2001
By Meghan
Format:Paperback
As a summer reading assignment I thought that Object Lessons would be boring as most reading projects usually are. Except this was not the case. One of my friends also assigned the books had started reading when she told me that it was a great book. Thus I began reading and was unable to put Object Lessons down. The book gave great examples of hatred within a family such as between John Scanlan, a full blooded Italian, and Connie, his Irish daughter in-law. The books shows how because of different hertiages one whole family within an extended family seemed to be alienated. Yet the end will suprise you on John Scanlan's true feelings. It was great for as much as Moncia seemed to believe that she was better than Maggie's family she was no better. Also Object Lessons shows a person is able to continue when they lose two people who are really important to them in a very short time. I loved this page turner even if it seemed to have too many characters. But if one of the characters was not their then the book would not have had the qualities that it has and been as great as it is. For example, Maggie's other grandfather was needed to give perspective on John Scanlan and the differance on how Tommy and Connie were raised.
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3.0 out of 5 stars And the Object of the Lesson is?? July 15 2001
Format:Paperback
I read Anna Quindlen's essays in Newsweek with passion and devotion. In picking up one of her books, I expected to see the same richness of language and depth of expression and thought that draws me to her exposition.
Unfortunatly, I was disappointed. One of the best things that a novelist can do for his/her book is to pare down the number of characters and then give them each many dimensions and depth...make them real, make them matter.
I felt as though there were way too many characters in the book to really become attached to any of them. 12 year old Maggie occupies most of the story, but her conflicts are not well examined. Why does she care so much about losing her ditzy friend? Why is she drawn to fire? What is her *feeling* about fire? Why does she cling to a grandfather that alienates her mother? Why does her ex-best friend's much adored older sister favor her so much and vice versa? Either the character has limited feelings, or the depth of her emotion is only slightly alluded to on the page. There are about five or six other characters that are given significant portions, but at a scant 261 pages, the reader doesn't get to know or love them well. You wonder what makes Monica so mean, why Connie considers cheating, why Tommy won't partner with his brother, why Celeste is in the book at all.
I felt that the end dragged on, and was riddled with cliches. Every other line seems to begin with, "And she knew..." ...[the voice in her head] was her grandfather's voice. ...that 20 years from now she would still hear all those voices ...that as long as they stayed there sheould be able to do all the things she had to do ...that even a week from now things would be different.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat Typical Girl "Coming of Age" Story
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 more
Published on Jan. 24 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite
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 more
Published on July 6 2003 by K L Keaton
2.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to give it more stars ....
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 more
Published on Aug. 6 2002 by Robert Reardon
1.0 out of 5 stars Exasperating and Dull
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 more
Published on Jan. 7 2002 by Pamela
1.0 out of 5 stars Object Lesson:Anticipation Sometimes Leads to Disappointment
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 more
Published on Nov. 8 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars Anne Tyler-ish
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 more
Published on April 25 2001 by Amy
1.0 out of 5 stars Roxanne
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 more
Published on Aug. 24 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars I found it hard to follow
I had to read Object Lessons as a summer reading assignment going into my Junior year of High School and it was a very well developed novel. Read more
Published on Aug. 22 2000 by Kristen
4.0 out of 5 stars ummmm......
I really liked this book and can relate to it very well, especially the parts about the fires and how Maggie learned that she didn't have to be apart of them to have friends. Read more
Published on Aug. 7 2000
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