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Janet MaslinThe First Desire is both lovely and heartbreaking in its vision of family ties at their most inevitable. "She has on this earth one mother," the book says of Lillian and her punishing parent, "a mother she wishes to forget, whose love is the color of bruises and who will, if you ignore her, haunt you into the next world." Ms. Reisman's power to haunt does not stretch quite that far, but it is formidable. It extends from the anxiety and uncertainty of loss, through the everyday wear and tear of family friction, to the reaffirmation of coming home.
— The New York Times