A Simple Thing

( 8 )

Overview

When Susannah Delaney discovers her young son is being bullied and her adolescent daughter is spinning out of control, she moves them to remote, rustic Sounder Island to live for a year. A simple island existence?with no computers or electricity and only a one-room schoolhouse?is just what her over scheduled East Coast kids need to learn what's really important in life. But the move threatens her marriage to the man she's loved since childhood, and her very sense of self.

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A Simple Thing

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Overview

When Susannah Delaney discovers her young son is being bullied and her adolescent daughter is spinning out of control, she moves them to remote, rustic Sounder Island to live for a year. A simple island existence—with no computers or electricity and only a one-room schoolhouse—is just what her over scheduled East Coast kids need to learn what's really important in life. But the move threatens her marriage to the man she's loved since childhood, and her very sense of self.

For Betty Pavalak, who moved to Sounder to save her own troubled marriage, the island has been a haven for fifty years. But Betty also knows the guilt of living with choices made long ago and actions that cannot be undone. The unlikely friendship between Susannah and Betty ignites a journey of self-discovery for both women and brings them both home to what they love most. A Simple Thing moves beyond friendship, children, and marriages to look deeply into what it means to love and forgive—yourself.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“A Simple Thing is a careful examination of friendship, marriage, and parenting; the choices we all face; and the battle so often waged between love and responsibility.”
Marisa de los Santos
“There is much to love about A Simple Thing: the way it transports you to another world; its delicate explorations of guilt and forgiveness; its lovely prose. But what I treasure most are its characters....”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062106230
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/24/2012
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 408,196
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathleen McCleary is a journalist and author whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Ladies' Home Journal, More, and Good Housekeeping. Her second novel, A Simple Thing (2012), was recently nominated for the Library of Virginia Literary Awards. She has taught writing as an adjunct professor at American University and now teaches with Writopia Labs. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and two daughters.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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(5)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I am so excited when I find books that really speak to the heart

    I am so excited when I find books that really speak to the heart of things I had to endure in my personal life before I found God and this is the perfect example, A Simple Thing by Kathleen McCleary. The subject matter is true to life in this imperfect world but yet the story speaks volumes to those of us hurting in so many different ways, that it doesn't have to stay that way. There is hope and there are ways to deal with those extremely painful times and move forward.

    Sounder Island is that place for two remarkable women who come to this isolated island for a much more simple life, a place for solitude and a place to deal with things in their own way. Susannah Delaney is having issues in three very different but understandable ways. Her daughter, Katie at 14 is pulling away from her overly controlling mom by sneaking out late at night, attending parties her mother knows nothing about and drinking while seeing a older boy that both parents know is influencing her in negative ways to rebel. When her drinking gets out of hand, almost killing her, Susannah feels that a change in environment is the cure. Her youngest son, Quinn is the subject of being bullied and when he comes home from school, badly beaten up, she feels her decision to move the family to Sounder Island is the right one.

    However for two very active kids, they aren't looking forward to complete isolation on the island at a cottage with no electricity, indoor plumbing and living off the land. Yet is Susannah doesn't take action, she believes she will lose one, if not both of her children to a lifestyle she can't control. However, her husband Matt, doesn't believe that running away with the kids is the answer, but Susannah is firmly convinced that the next 9 months will be life-saving to her kids. If Matt won't support her, she'll go anyway. So she pulls the kids out of school and makes plans to rent a cottage and live there until the end of the school year.

    Betty Pavalak has moved to the island as well to avoid a very painful past. When her husband Bill wanted a change of pace from his day to day, nine to five, life style, he attempted to convince Betty to move to Alaska so he could pursue a life of a fisherman and provide a more stable financial life for them, but Betty didn't want to give up her family, friends or her job, for the excitement Bill wanted in Alaska. But when she miscarries three of her children, she wonders if a change of pace might just be the thing to restore the distance between her and Bill. However when she compromises and settles for a life in Sounder Island instead, Bill is content, but his commitment to his marriage wavers and Betty soon learns that Bill is having an affair. She doesn't know what to do anymore and feels that she can't live with Bill any longer but doesn't want to divorce him either, now that she learns she is pregnant again. Will she be able to find the peace and love she so desperately needs?

    I received A Simple Things by Kathleen McCleary compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review and I have to say, this book captivated me in a different way than I thought possible. It takes a hard look at the unfortunate set of circumstances each of these women have been dealt in life, and shows you how each of them weathered through them to get to the other side. While faith is rarely mentioned, it does portray each set of problems in very real ways in my opinion. While the choices are not easy made, they do move forward at their own pace, dealing with a wide range of emotions that really tugs on your heart strings. I could relate to so many of their issues, even though teenage drinking wasn't an issue for me. This is a very real and believable book that I think women can honestly relate to. For that reason, I give this a 5 out of 5 stars. While I don't condone the decisions some of these women made, its the believability and vulnerability of the characters, Kathleen McCleary creates that I enjoyed the most and I loved how the story is told from both Betty and Susannah's perspectives in alternating chapters.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Probing Thoughts on Protecting Our Children

    Hopes nearly dashed by her daughter’s online scandal and suspension from school, Susannah Delaney moves her sweet son and sullen daughter to a remote island off the Oregon coast. So begins A Simple Thing by Kathleen McCleary. Thirty years ago, Betty Pavalak relocated to Sounder Island as well to raise her son while her fisherman husband was away. Drastic measures must be taken when your family is foundering. Sometimes protecting your children outweighs working on your marriage. Suffering brings both women to Sounder Island. The bond they develop is an unlikely balm for their troubles and a bolster to their identities. Sounder Island, six square miles of rich forest and beautiful beaches west of Vancouver, seems light years away from the Delaney’s busy suburban life in Virginia. Susannah’s son, Quinn, is clearly excited about the move, but Katie, thirteen and bound to be resentful, complains that their new life is just, “water, island, water, island…” Living on an island with no electricity becomes not just a respite from the hectic, problematic life they lived before, but also a challenge. Storing food in a cold cellar because no refrigerator is available tests their adaptability. You will meet a crotchety old hermit suspicious of the newcomers and a handsome one-room schoolhouse teacher. Be prepared to fall in love with Barefoot. McCleary’s characters are layered and imbued with humanity for the mistakes they fear and the courage they display. Long distance marriage and its effects on children as well as spouses is a major theme. The book explores its complications and implications. Although the author handles each character’s voice clearly and with grace, the multiple characters introduced in flashbacks confused this reader. A discrepancy in the story happens when the teacher states that he doesn’t pass on to the parents what students confide in him and then proceeds to give Susanna much detail about Katie’s problems. A Simple Thing is a wise mediation on love and the implications of the difficult decisions it demands. I thank William Morrow Paperbacks, a division of Harper Collins, for the advance release copy. Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2013

    Great book.

    Great book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2013

    Captivating

    Thoroughly satisfying

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2013

    I liked this book.

    The characters were wonderfully developed and had great depth. As a parent, I could totally relate to them. I would read more by this author.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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