Between Here and April

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Overview

When a deep-seated memory suddenly surfaces, Elizabeth Burns becomes obsessed with the long-ago disappearance of her childhood friend April Cassidy. Driven to investigate, Elizabeth discovers a thirty-five-year-old newspaper article revealing the details that had been hidden from her as a child—shocking revelations about April's mother, Adele.

Elizabeth, now herself a mother, seeks out anyone who might help piece together the final months, days, and hours of this troubled ...

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Overview

When a deep-seated memory suddenly surfaces, Elizabeth Burns becomes obsessed with the long-ago disappearance of her childhood friend April Cassidy. Driven to investigate, Elizabeth discovers a thirty-five-year-old newspaper article revealing the details that had been hidden from her as a child—shocking revelations about April's mother, Adele.

Elizabeth, now herself a mother, seeks out anyone who might help piece together the final months, days, and hours of this troubled woman's life, but the answers yield only more questions. And those questions lead back to Elizabeth's own life: her own compromised marriage, her increasing self-doubt and dissatisfaction, and finally, a fearsome reckoning with what it means to be a wife and mother.

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Editorial Reviews

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“A captivating thriller.”—More magazine
Daily Candy
“Outstanding . . . a haunting eyes-wide openness.”—Daily Candy
Washington Post
"An amalgamation of autobiography, true crime and melodrama. . . . The story is so engaging... a credit to this narrator's wonderfully appealing voice: funny, frustrated, likable, totally candid about her desires and failings...The perfect book club book."—Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

How could a mother kill her children? This breathtaking first novel from photojournalist Kogan (Shutterbabe) attempts a heart-wrenching answer. Elizabeth "Lizzie" Burns Steiger, a 41-year-old TV producer/journalist, has a hallucination while watching a performance of Medea at a Manhattan theater; she sees her best friend in first grade, April Cassidy, who was killed by April's depressed mother, Adele, in 1972 in Potomac, Md., along with April's sister. In addition to exploring her memories in therapy, Lizzie interviews the Cassidys' former neighbor and others who knew the family for a proposed cable network documentary, but a priceless Pandora's box-tapes of Adele with her psychiatrist-provides the most startling revelations. Kogan skillfully interweaves Lizzie's struggles with her troubled marriage, parenting and a personal trauma shared in the Balkans with a former lover in this unflinching portrait of filicide, which still manages to find light in the darkness of a very disturbing subject. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Debut novel from TV producer and photojournalist Kogan (Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War, 2001). In the middle of a performance of Medea, Elizabeth Burns faints. Just before she passes out, she has a vivid, visceral recollection of April Cassidy-someone Elizabeth hasn't thought about for 35 years. Once upon a time, they had been best friends, but April disappeared from Elizabeth's memory just as completely as she disappeared from their first-grade classroom. After remembering this lost little girl, Elizabeth becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to her. It doesn't take long to discover that April's mother, Adele, killed both her daughters and herself, but Elizabeth still wants to know why. As she begins to build her story, Kogan deftly exploits the conventions of the murder mystery to create a sense of tension and uncertainty, but the basic facts of the central murder are never in doubt. The mystery Elizabeth is exploring is the mystery of motive-which is, at its core, the essentially unknowable mystery of each human self. These opening chapters are eerie and gripping. A TV producer, Elizabeth uses her job as an excuse to exhume this long-buried tragedy, and, as she digs deeper, she uncovers unnerving parallels between her life and Adele's. Both women are torn between career and motherhood, and both are unhappy in their marriages. Then she finds transcripts of Adele's sessions with a psychiatrist, and the whole novel falls apart. These documents are about as nuanced-and about as convincing-as a dramatic reenactment on Unsolved Mysteries. Adele ceases to be a complex and tragically compelling figure and becomes, instead, a cartoonishly facile exemplar of postpartumpsychosis. Elizabeth, too, devolves into a rickety collection of neuroses, and Kogan provides explanations for each that make it seem as if there is an obvious, inevitable connection between trauma and symptom. The ending is both predictable and absurd, and Kogan provides a coda that is so sentimental and improbable that it's an insult to the reader. Grossly disappointing. Agent: David McCormick/McCormick & Williams Literary Agency
USA Today
"An amalgamation of autobiography, true crime and melodrama. . . . The story is so engaging... a credit to this narrator's wonderfully appealing voice: funny, frustrated, likable, totally candid about her desires and failings...The perfect book club book."—Washington Post
Rocky Mountain News
“A captivating thriller.”—More magazine
The Washington Post
“Outstanding . . . a haunting eyes-wide openness.”—Daily Candy
Working Mother
“This exceptional, riveting novel will haunt you long after you've reached the end.”—Rocky Mountain News
Elle Magazine
"...a page-turning good read...A tautly written story with sympathetic characters and evocative storytelling." –USA Today
From the Publisher
"The perfect book club book...An amalgamation of autobiography, true crime and melodrama...The story is so engaging...A credit to this narrator's wonderfully appealing voice: funny, frustrated, likable, totally candid about her desires and failings." —The Washington Post

"A page-turning good read...A tautly written story with sympathetic characters and evocative storytelling." —USA Today

"Extraordinary...Fascinating and detailed...This is a story that needs to be told." —Elle, #1 Reader's Pick

"[A] haunting page-turner...A compelling look at what it means to be a mother and a wife." —Working Mother

The Barnes & Noble Review
This first novel by the author of the bestselling memoir Shutterbabe flirts with fiction and its opposite in such a way that one may be compelled, upon completion, to find out what is "true." Though the nature of reality is open to interpretation, we have the internet, and in this case, it has partial answers. Elizabeth Burns, the protagonist, and Deborah Copaken Kogan, her creator, share some biographical details: Both returned from war zones to take up marriage and motherhood in Manhattan (Kogan's career as a photojournalist was the subject of her first book); both worked in television; and, most strikingly, both of them had a best friend in first grade who was murdered by her suicidal mother (so claims Kogan on her web site). This last fact comes back to the adult Elizabeth during a performance of Medea and seems quite rightly to be the spectacular basis for a story. She talks her producer into letting her dig up whatever facts she can find and put them together into a documentary. Adele, the mother of Elizabeth's best friend April, gassed herself and two daughters to death in the family car one night in 1972. Thirty years later, Elizabeth tracks down Adele's shell-shocked former husband, her women's studies professor sister, and, somewhat improbably, the transcripts of conversations between Adele and her therapist, which naturally make the reader privy to the long-dead woman's deepest thoughts in her own voice. Elizabeth, meanwhile, becomes alarmed at the emotional parallels between her own ambivalence about marriage and motherhood and those of a suicidal murderess. Though parts of her novel resemble many recent titles on the difficulties of balancing career and motherhood for affluent urban women, Kogan's material -- including rape, war, suicide, and homicide -- certainly ratchets up the consequences and thus the conversation beyond the usual playground chatter. --Amy Benfer
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565125629
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
  • Publication date: 9/30/2008
  • Pages: 277
  • Product dimensions: 8.76 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Copaken Kogan is the author of Shutter-babe, the bestselling memoir of her years as a war photographer. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Paris Match, Newsweek, Time, Elle, L'Express, and PHOTO, and on The Today Show, ABC News, Dateline NBC, and CNN. She lives in New York with her husband and three children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 26, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    A Mother's Must-Read

    Mothers, as a collective community, will find the story in this book to be one that, like it or not, they will relate to in one way or another. Most of us will not admit to others, let alone to ourselves, some of the negatives we feel that go along with motherhood. In BETWEEN HERE AND APRIL the author tells a compelling story that, unfortunately, is not always fiction. Prepare yourself to empathize with the unthinkable. After reading this book you will want to reasses your life and hug your children.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted April 6, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved, Loved, LOVED!

    I picked this book up on a whim one day. I had just finished reading another book and was just wandering through the book store and saw the cover. I thought it looked interesting and figured I'd give it a shot. I was very surprised at how captivating the book was for me. Having a large interest in photography, suspenseful reading, and a best friend named April- I felt like this book was about me. It draws you in and won't let go. Definitely a great read for a lazy Sunday but be weary if you start reading it before bed... You'll probably be unable to put it down and go to sleep.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted September 18, 2008

    Captivating¿

    Elizabeth Burns began a journey to discover what really happened to her childhood friend, April. While at first it appears that Between Here and April is about the tragic death of April and her sister at the hands of their mother, there is a much deeper meaning to the plot. Elizabeth was a successful journalist that put her career on hold to raise her children. April¿s tale helps Elizabeth sort out her own emotions by examining her own life as a mother, wife, journalist, and person. This book examines postpartum depression and the need to feel fulfilled as a person. This is a story that needs to be told, but would have been more affective if it had been less about Elizabeth and more about April. I found Elizabeth¿s musings to be distracting. Nevertheless, this is a very good book. It examines motherhood in a way few books ever have. This is not a feel-good book. The tale is gripping, and I was unable to lay it down until I knew the ending.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Strong writing, sensitive observations, no true resolution

    A bit scattered (much like life, to be fair). I had a favorite storyline, but little time was devoted to it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 30, 2010

    Couldn't even finish this book...

    and that's not at all like me. I didn't find this book able to hold my attention. This was a book club choice and I wish it had been good, but it just wasnt.

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

    Posted July 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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