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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
"Make yourself at home." A casual phrase, but it's one of the most difficult tasks for the characters in Brown's artful collection of stories. It is these characters -- their longing for connection and their basic goodness -- that give this book so much heart.
Brown's 13 stories depict a fragile world in which people are constantly moving and connections are tenuous. Linked by characters, the stories span fifteen years, centering principally on Osnat, the daughter of an Israeli mother and an American father. In "Descent," Osnat's family moves from Israel to Michigan for her father's new job. Miserable in America, Osnat's mother returns home for a "visit," and Osnat is left to wonder if she will ever return. In "Hands Across America," Osnat's father tries to cheer the family by driving them to a national event -- a human chain stretching from one end of the country to the other. It's sadly ironic that this gargantuan effort to help the hungry and create a shared sense of purpose is also where Osnat learns that her best friend is moving away.
In the title story, Osnat recalls how her father once tried to trick his mother into buying him a convertible. His ruse backfired, so he learned to be direct, to confront life head-on. "You want a convertible?" he says. "Ask for a convertible." Would that life were so simple -- for Osnat and for all of us. (Fall 2008 Selection)