Awake

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Overview

A mother seeks freedom for her young son—and rediscovers her own need for it in the process—in this powerful novel about family, identity, and love

Once a painter, a traveler, a lover of light, Anna Simon has been living in the dark ever since she gave birth to Max, a child with a rare genetic disease for whom even an hour in sunlight could prove fatal. For years, Anna has home schooled Max and structured her life around his, despite the fact that her husband, Ian, favors ...

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Overview

A mother seeks freedom for her young son—and rediscovers her own need for it in the process—in this powerful novel about family, identity, and love

Once a painter, a traveler, a lover of light, Anna Simon has been living in the dark ever since she gave birth to Max, a child with a rare genetic disease for whom even an hour in sunlight could prove fatal. For years, Anna has home schooled Max and structured her life around his, despite the fact that her husband, Ian, favors mainstreaming. When Anna learns of a camp in upstate New York for children with the disease, she sees room for a compromise—a sanctuary for Max, a place where he can interact with other children and be both safe and free.

And so the summer that Max is nine, the family heads off to Camp Luna. At first, it seems like the answer to their problems. But as Anna is drawn into life there and gets to know Hal, the camp’s charismatic founder, freedom and safety prove to be complicated things. What begins as a novel about a mother with a sick child quickly becomes an intricate examination of one woman’s identity as Anna—given sudden breathing room—looks around at her life and finds that she has lost track of essential pieces of herself. What, exactly, are safety and freedom? And at what cost—to one’s self and the people in one’s life—should they be protected and pursued?

Beautifully written, emotionally wrenching, Awake showcases the strengths of Elizabeth Graver’s acclaimed previous novel, The Honey Thief, the focus shifting from childhood to adulthood, to limn the passions and intricacies of a woman’s mind and heart.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Elizabeth Graver has an astonishing ability to imagine her way deep inside her characters, illuminating complex lives and situations. This is a passionate, deeply engaging novel.” —Andrea Barrett

"Graver's sublimely honest first-person narrative powerfully imparts Anna's confusion with empathic sensitivity." —Booklist

“A beautifully constructed tribute to self-sacrificing parenting that segues into a clear-eyed anatomy of the inevitable destructive power of infidelity.”

—starred Library Journal

"Gracefully written and emotionally rich...Graver’s lyrical portrait of a thoughtful woman in crisis will resonate with many readers." —Publishers Weekly

Library Journal
Having devoted her life to the care of a sick child, Anna suddenly discovers that she has lost track of herself. From the author of The Honey Thief, who will get a big push here. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805065398
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/7/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Graver is the author of Unravelling and The Honey Thief, both of which were New York Times Notable Books. Her work has been included in Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays, as well as in Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards. She lives in Massachusetts and teaches at Boston College.

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Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from Awake by Elizabeth Graver. Copyright © 2004 by Elizabeth Graver. Published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

If I were a different sort of person, this would be the story of my son and the sanctuary we found for him. It would be a tale of healing—if not of the body, then of the soul.

But what if a mother gets an itch, a yen? What if she tires of the tending, loses faith in the healing, needs a break? People in the paid workforce get vacations. Daycare providers get them, and nurses. Teachers take sabbaticals and leaves. What if the mother, who for years has checked and checked and checked her sick boy’s skin, watches the boy run off with his new friends and starts to notice her own skin again, the way it keens for something, wants? What if she finds herself split down the middle? Now she is two people, or even more—two mothers, two women in love with two men and with solitude itself, a person at once meshed and floating, coming and going, here and there. It should be disturbing, but it isn’t, not at first. She’s too happy. Brimming. Her love is wide and generous; she’s got more than enough to go around.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2006

    Blah...

    I finished it to the end so it was interesting enough I suppose. I bought it because I was interested in learning more about XP and I have always enjoyed books that make me feel and learn. It made me angry to read about this somewhat selfish woman and I felt dissapointed with the ending that I did not feel was deserved.

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

    Posted May 22, 2006

    Okay, but certainly not great

    The only reason I read this novel is b/c I have a good friend that has XP, and I wanted to learn even more about the topic. However, this book isn't really about XP-- it's a boring, slow love story. I hated the main character, who tries to make the reader feel so sorry for her b/c she has a child with XP. I don't feel sorry for her, and it is a joy to spend every momenet with my best friend who has XP. The character also wants us to feel sorry for her, when she is the one who has an extramarital affair. I would say that this novel was worth reading for me, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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