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4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Deal in a Brief Book
This book is the first from Alice McDermott since, "Charming Billy", won the National Book Award in 1998. A book with that type of success is certain to create very high expectations for the next work, and while, "Child Of My Heart", is very good I think it is unfair to compare it to the writer's previous work. Few authors turn out books that routinely are considered the...
Published on March 14 2003 by taking a rest

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3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment
Yet another author in need of an editor. This is mediocre at best, which is unfortunate. Her last book, Charming Billy, was quite good.
Published on Jan. 8 2003 by vbd72


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4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Deal in a Brief Book, March 14 2003
This book is the first from Alice McDermott since, "Charming Billy", won the National Book Award in 1998. A book with that type of success is certain to create very high expectations for the next work, and while, "Child Of My Heart", is very good I think it is unfair to compare it to the writer's previous work. Few authors turn out books that routinely are considered the best by those who decide awards.
The book is a narrative as shared by a woman of her memories of a summer when she was 15. I think this is an important point, for some seem to find this 15 years old girl as lacking credibility. These are memories and they are subject to all the forms of error that define what memory is. There is no doubt the narrator is precocious by any measure, she has an almost Mary Poppins like effect on the children she cares for, and by her account the animals she watches as well. She is an only child, she is clearly very bright, and if she was as mature as her stunning good looks, the memories seemed to me to be credible. Certain of the remembered thoughts may be enhanced or edited, but I do not believe they are made from whole cloth.
She is far from perfect and the one error she does make has consequences. Whether her taking action with her little cousin would have made a difference is unlikely, but the author keeps that to herself. Our narrator may know what she is dealing with and chooses to make the most of the summer as she can, not fighting the inevitable. For this is a confident young woman as becomes apparent in how she portrays MaCduff in her school play, defying her teachers, Nuns, to do as she feels appropriate.
She also has been put in the strange situation of being an only child situated to live amongst those who might help her become more than her parents are. She lives on a portion of Long Island that is not fashionable but gives her access to the people and the homes they occupy to network, and be exposed to them, whether she pursues it or not.
My main criticism is that there is too much in too short a book. Extremely complex relationships are touched on as opposed to explored. This may have been intentional as memories are never as complete as the real time event, but again that is a detail only the author knows. I very much enjoy the manner by which Alice McDermott writes, and for me that is always a great part of any book. All of the issues and situations may not have been completed for the reader, but that hardly makes the book unique. The book is definitely a worthwhile read from a talented author.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, Jan. 8 2003
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"vbd72" (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
Yet another author in need of an editor. This is mediocre at best, which is unfortunate. Her last book, Charming Billy, was quite good.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Real, July 13 2004
By 
J. A Carty "Jessie Carty" (Charlotte, NC United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have a hard time putting into words my opinion of this novel. It is so carefully crafted. There don't seem to be any moments where the right words are not used.
This has all the hallmarks of a classic. The sign of such a good work is that you might guess what is to come (the tragedy, the ultimate pain and/or joy) and you feel that emotion along with the characters but you could not put the book down before getting there.
I did not give this a 5 because at first I was disappointed with the ending. It is somehow anti-climatic. The more, however, I thought about it I realized that this was the writer's design. The world of the narrator moves on in the way it does for all of us and especially when we are "coming of age" so to speak. That would be my only suggestion that you keep an open mind to the end and really reflect on the trip the novel took you on.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Did not hold my attention, July 4 2004
By A Customer
This is the first review I've felt compelled to write, but I just wanted to warn readers not to bother with this book. Usually I have a broad range of interests and read most anything, but this was one book in which I struggled to make it to page 62, and then finally had to give up altogether. The characters themselves are not well developed, and the plot never goes anywhere. Definitely not a book to read if you want a book that immediately draws you in.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Gentle, Nostalic and Lovely, March 19 2004
By A Customer
Perhaps this book found me at the right time. I'm a new mom and, apparently, my patience for fiction has diminished a great deal. While I used to read 4 or 5 novels a month, I've been limiting my recent diet to parenting books. Oh well.
Somehow this story captured my attention. I think it was largely the gentle pace and the nostalgic portrayal of the summer days of girlhood.
My only hesitation in praising the book involves the main character, Theresa. For the majority of the story she was painted in an angelic light. Her blossoming sexuality could certainly be understood, but her attraction to a senior artist--light and shadow notwithstanding--didn't quite mesh.
In any event, I was drawn to Theresa's goodness. I suppose it was her precocious motherly qualities that endeared her to me at this time in my life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, great setting, wonderful characters, March 2 2004
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Didn't want this book to end. I felt like I was living with the characters, rather than reading about them. While it was a sometimes sad and poignant book, it gave me an uplifting feeling that's hard to explain. I read a lot, and this book is right up there as one of my favorite works of fiction. Subtle in its message, it is beautifully written and a joy to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A modern day classic!!, Feb. 15 2004
By 
J. N Sandell "So many books, so little time" (Maplewood, MN United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I am disheartened when I read some of the reviews of this book. I was taken with this story from the very first pages. I see Theresa as a modern day St. Francis, efortlessly winning the respect of animals and children alike. I got the feeling that Theresa didn't really fit in anyway, what with being the only child of older parents, so she used her talent of being the most sought after baby sitter in Long Island to her benefit and to the benefit of many children that are all but forgotten by their families. Theresa provided the stability that this idyllic place needed.
This book and all the people in it are utterly unforgettable and superbly crafted. I was touched by Theresa's unconditional love for Daisy Mae and Flora. I loved the scenes at the beach as well as the scene with Debbie and Curly, the cat, and decorating the lollipop tree.
Alice McDermott is an efortless, gifted storyteller and this is the type of book that you'll want to curl up with and hang on to.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book, Jan. 30 2004
By 
Kathryn Love (San Juan Capistrano, California USA) - See all my reviews
I read this book "Child of My Heart" twice in one week.
I loved the characters. The Moran Children, Flora and mostly I loved Daisy. I wanted Daisy to be saved and was saddened by "we lost Daisy in March."
When Teresa, Daisy and Flora decorated the tree with lollipops I was visualizing it. When they were on the beach I felt I was there with them. I was with them every minute.
I did not understand why Teresa had this sexual encounter with the painter. If she was a young and beautiful girl, she could have had an encounter with a young and handsome boy near her own age. I decided that she was impressed with his reputation as a painter and a lover.
Teresa was only 15 years old and a 15 year old looks at situations differently than a mature person. She had no idea how serious the situation was with Daisy's health.
I read "Charming Billy" and did not like it. So you see we are all different.
I cannot wait until Alice McDermott writes another book. Maybe she will write one about a grown up Teresa and the Moran Children.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying, Jan. 4 2004
This is a novel about a 15 year old girl who invites her "poor" 8 year old cousin to her house on the east end of Long Island, so she can spend the summer. Theresa, the heroine, is a lonely beautiful girl, daughter of hard working parents who are not as rich as their summer neighbors. To make money, and get noticed by the right people, Theresa babysits, walks dogs, etc. This is not a coming of age story, it is a reminiscience of a brief moment in time.
THe good thing about this book is the writing. Much of it is lyrical and beautiful, and flows from page to page. But hte plot of the book leaves much to be desired. Things happen, but they are vague and underplayed. I assume this was done on purpose, but it doesn't work for me. It just makes everything that happens unimportant- days meld together. And the character development is weak, as the main character is weak. Theresa NEVER hangs out with anyone her own age. For a girl who is supposed to be so beautiful, no one between the ages of 11 and 35 ever approaches her. There are no girls from school calling, no trips to the ice cream shop, etc. It is just weird. All the adults we come across are strange as well- nasty socialite women, leering older men, the drunken next door neighbor, uncaring parents, including Theresa's own parents, who don't seem to care too much about what she's up to, or if she's happy.
Because of the time frame of this book, we never see Thersa grow, or change, which leads me to the question- what was the point of this book?
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2.0 out of 5 stars Alice in Wonderland, Dec 2 2003
By A Customer
This book was a disappointment after the first 50 pages....I guess that once you are famous anything can get published ....there was no recognizable character in this novel.
The main character is obviously a loner, conceited and self-centered....seducing a 70 year old man and not revealing a child's medical condition because she's be parted from her makes her selfish....read Charming Billy and then stop.
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Child of My Heart: A Novel
Child of My Heart: A Novel by Alice McDermott (Audio CD - Nov. 23 2002)
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