Departures

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It is only when their mother disappears, leaving word with each of her daughters that she will be out of the country, sisters Pagan, Prana, and Zhikr are shaken. A single parent, their mother has always been a stable, constant presence and each of them needs her now. Pagan's second pregnancy has turned into a harrowing nightmare. Prana is devastated when her long affair with a married man starts to fall apart. And Zeke has become—reluctantly— the only sober caretaker for her ...

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2004 Soft Cover New This book is new. The award-winning short fiction writer presents her debut novel with this "vivid, deeply realistic portrait of contemporary women" ... (Julianna Baggott) in her signature "swift, unerring prose" (Jay Parini). Read more Show Less

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Overview

It is only when their mother disappears, leaving word with each of her daughters that she will be out of the country, sisters Pagan, Prana, and Zhikr are shaken. A single parent, their mother has always been a stable, constant presence and each of them needs her now. Pagan's second pregnancy has turned into a harrowing nightmare. Prana is devastated when her long affair with a married man starts to fall apart. And Zeke has become—reluctantly— the only sober caretaker for her soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend's daughters.

In their mother's absence, the sisters piece together fragments of her past to realize what it might have cost her, a child of the sixties, to sacrifice her free-spirited ways in order to raise them in a comfortable Westchester town. In the face of difficulty—and without her mother's presence—each sister must reflect her mother's resolve and do what is necessary to preserve herself.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
Departures explores the unique and intricate relationships between a mother and each of her three grown daughters, as well as the relationships among the daughters themselves. Their mother has sent each of them a note saying that she has gone out of the country and they are not to try to find her. Pagan, Zeke and Prana each achieve a new level of maturity and become more independent, self-confident, self-directed women as a result of their mother's mysterious departure. Each daughter's name reflects a spiritual dimension of their mother's early life. Pagan (no religion, free from constriction), Zeke ("Zhikr," from the Suni ceremony of spiritual remembrance), and Prana (Hindu/Indian for energy of the universe) are aptly named in terms of their personalities and role/importance in their mother's life. When their mother disappears, each daughter must confront personal challenges (departures) without the benefit of her counsel: an aborted pregnancy, the termination of a long love affair, and a difficult retreat from a conflicted lesbian relationship. These women gradually learn to communicate more sympathetically with each other and to define themselves for themselves as their mother has taught them by her example. They develop an understanding of the sacrifices she, a single mother, has had to make in order to give them a good life. As the reason for her disappearance emerges, the daughters appreciate their mother as a person who remains true to herself and continues to fulfill her own separate needs. Departures also examines generational pressure (how the mother's parents influenced her rebellion in the '60s), communication difficulties among people in a family, and theimportance of family ties. This novel is a "thinking" book rather than an "action" story and will appeal to adults and mature teens who enjoy studying relationships and inter-relationships, especially among women. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2004, Penguin, Berkley, 341p., Ages 15 to adult.
—Susan Allison
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425195901
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/4/2004
  • Edition description: Signature Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Oness, whose story collection Articles of Faith won the 2000 Iowa Short Fiction Award, directs marketing and development for the literary press which she runs with her husband. She also teaches English at the Winona State University in Minnesota.

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