A family founders after a mother's death in Strayed's beautifully observed debut. Teresa Rae Wood was a teen mother and an abused wife who escaped to Minnesota, fell in love, raised good kids and started hosting a radio program called Modern Pioneers. "Work hard. Do good. Be incredible," Teresa tells her listeners, because that's what she does—until she's diagnosed with cancer and learns she has only months to live. As her loving common-law husband, Bruce, and her children, Claire (a bright, responsible college senior), and Josh, (a brooding 17-year-old), face Teresa's dying and death, Strayed shows how grief can divide people when they need each other the most. Bruce vows to kill himself, but then stumbles into a marriage with his neighbor; Claire drops out of school, cheats on her boyfriend and stops eating; Josh sells drugs and falls in love with a girl he quickly impregnates. The novel, like the family it portrays, loses its center after Teresa's death, as Bruce, Claire and Josh (especially the latter two) push and pull at each other, reaching and only sometimes finding comfort and connection. Strayed's characters are real and lovable, even as they fail themselves and each other; even tertiary players feel fully realized. Though the subject is sad, the novel is not without humor; it shimmers with a humane grace. (Feb.)
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Teresa Rae Wood is famous in her small town of Midden, Minnesota, for hosting Modern Pioneers, a local radio program that gives tips on living off the land. At the age of 38, she is diagnosed with a virulent form of cancer and dies within months. Her -common--law husband, Bruce, and her children, 20-year-old Claire and 18-year-old Josh, are left reeling. Bruce abruptly marries his next-door neighbor, Josh becomes heavily involved in dealing methamphetamine, and Claire single-mindedly devotes herself to keeping her mother's memory alive. What they learn about grief over the succeeding months gives each of them the strength to both ask for help and respect each other's vastly different coping methods. First--novelist Strayed shows a deep appreciation for the rhythms of small-town life, capturing the sense of community, the struggle to earn a living, and also the disdain for "city apes." In addition, she discerns within one family's crisis the painful, shifting nature of familial relationships, especially Josh's desire to both escape from and acknowledge his need for his dying mother. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.