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The summer of 1960 is sizzling, but every bit of heat has gone out of this young couple's marriage as they return with their almost year-old daughter, Madeline, to Buddy's hometown, Hadley, New Jersey, to stay with his Aunt Dot. Right away, Virginia finds confirmation of her old suspicion that Buddy is still deeply attached to his old high-school girlfriend, Irene. It doesn't seem to slow the two down that Irene is now married to Buddy's good friend Chick. As the summer progresses, Virginia finds herself more and more estranged from her silent, moody husband. She flees for a while to Massachusetts to stay with her parents, but when it becomes clear that they aren't going to provide her with a way out, Virginia heads back to Buddy to try once more. On the surface, this is disarmingly simple stuff—the perils of young marriage. But Thomas mines deeper and delivers more. Her depiction of Virginia's parents, not quite callous but exquisitely bundled in their own self-absorption, is chilling and wonderful. Irene and Buddy too, to a lesser degree, grow beyond their easy-to-hate adulterous roles into more complex characters. And, finally, there is Virginia herself, who narrates in a voice that's right on pitch for a 19- year-old mother in 1960: self-righteous, slightly priggish, and, at times, heartbreakingly naive. The changes she makes as she goes along are tiny but meaningful, and by the close—an ending that both is and isn't a surprise—we see that Virginia, who started out as a bit of a dim bulb, may be a firecracker after all.
The aftermath of a 1950s shotgun marriage may not be a new story, but this one, quietly told, resonates in a powerful way. A heartfelt first novel.
Posted June 29, 2005
Okay, I loved Abigail Thomas' other book 'Getting Over Tom' it was wonderful, and this book wasn't bad but the ending left me saying, no, screaming 'WHAT?!?!', I have no idea what just happened, none whatsoever, I think my jaw is hanging open, it's probably really simple too. Someone explain it to me please.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 28, 2004
I really loved this book. It makes you think about young life. I pictured myself in her shoes...what I would do differently...what I would do the same? And the ending was just perfect!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 26, 2001